Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas To All

It's Christmas Eve! Today is all about rushing around getting the last few bits for dinner, delivering presents to people and making sure everything is organised for Santa's visit..house is cleaned, bed covers changed, christmas pjs are ready...it's always a very busy day here!
It's hard to believe that this time last year Luke was a chubby little 6 month old and now he's a right little toddler ruling the roost and calling Santa and saying Ho Ho Ho.
This year is slightly different than last year seeing as I'm back at work so it's been a bit of an extra rush to get organised as well going to work but I am now off for a couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to celebrating the festive season and spending some quality time with my family and friends.

So Merry Christmas to you all, I hope this festive season is full of all of the joys for you and yours. I shall see you here again before the end of the year for a closing post on the year that was 2014. Now let's all go eat, drink and be merry :)

(I'll leave you with Luke's Christmas cards photo's for this year)


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Eve Treats & Traditions

Since Luke has arrived into our lives, I've been really excited about carrying on family traditions as well as making new ones for him and Christmas is the best time of the year for such a thing.

Our Christmas Eve is always a busy day, rushing around getting the last few bits and pieces for Christmas Day, prepping the veg for the dinner, tidying the house ready for Santa's arrival. I've got the raw end of the deal since moving out of home though because now I have to do the "tidy" in my own house as well as the parents because Mum usually works till the evening on Christmas Eve, the joys of retail, so I have to do it...it also means I now have to put up 2 tree's and decorate 2 houses! We then have finger food for dinner, cook up a load of it in my parents and then we chill out and watch some Christmas TV, generally something like Noel Edmonds, he does this show every year where he helps people and gives them gifts and what not and me and Mum usually end up sobbing into a chicken wing! Mum does a bit of last minute baking on Christmas Eve night. Pre baby days I would head over to the local country pub for a drink or 2 with some friends before heading off to midnight mass in the church next to my parents house but these days its home to get Luke ready for bed and to sleep early ahead of his fun filled Christmas Day. We'll be spending Christmas Eve night putting together his presents this year because we are gluttons for punishment and managed to buy him presents that all need to be assembled before they can be used...note to self for next year not to do that again.

We also got Christmas pjs when we were younger so of course Luke had to get the same, I still get myself a new pair of pjs for Christmas every year! I used to always chance my arm trying to get the parents to allow us to open one, just one, present on Christmas Eve but we were never allowed so I thought I would start the tradition of a Christmas Eve basket for Luke, I thought this would be enough to contain his excitement in years to come while waiting for the big guy in red to bring his presents. We don't go over board, just pick up a few Christmassy bits and pieces and out them together in a basket I kept a few years ago from an Easter egg Mum had been given.

Here's what's in his basket this year:

This year Luke has a pair of pjs from Penneys for €7 that say Dear Santa, It's Not How It Looks.. totally fitting for this boy of mine! We have some Christmas slipper socks also from Penneys for €3 I think, a soft toy puppy from Dunnes Stores for €5 and some Kinder minis and 2 Christmas story books from Dealz. I also included a new sippy cup that the lovely folk over at Haberman sent to us. We are already big fans of their Anyway Up Bird cup so included the very funky Anyway Up Cow cup in the Christmas basket this year. Decorated the basket with a bit of tinsel and a felt snow flake and it's ready to go. 

We were also sent a personalised Christmas book by the super people over at Digital Scribe so I am happy to include this in our Christmas Eve tradition. It's a wonderful story about Luke and his cousin Katie and his dog Murphy who go on trip with Santa around Ireland visiting some of the very popular landmarks while mentioning our home town. An ideal book to get kids involved and I loved the the personalised letter that came with it and Luke's little picture on the front. When ordering the book you can fill in an information sheet with details about your little one for the story to include their names. This book is €15.99 plus P+P and can be ordered on their website.

Have you got any Christmas Eve traditions? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Slimming World Journey - Week 5

So I am now 5 weeks into my Slimming World journey and they have flown by! I've found it much easier to stick to than I had expected. Once I familiarised myself with the different food groups, Super Free, Free, Healthy Extras and Syns I've slowly been able to prep meals without having to refer to my hand book (Slimming World bible) for everything.
There's no magic trick with this diet, it's basically eating right, cutting out the junk but still allowing yourself the odd treat now and then. I look forward to the weigh ins but dread them at the same time, I'm afraid to go up in weight but delighted to step on those scales and see I've gone down, it's a bit of a love / hate relationship!
Unfortunately I haven't been able to stay for the group talk since my registration week as I'm usually rushing home to put Luke to bed because the OH has training most Tuesday evenings or else he's working but I am hoping to sit in on a group talk in the next week or so.
I will admit last week I was bit bold and indulged in Pringles and chocolate but I'm back on the wagon firmly now. I received my first 1/2 stone award last week and it's made me more determined and eager to get my next award at a stone weight loss.
Even though I can't stick around for the group talk each week I find the Facebook group a great help for motivation, recipes, hints and tips and general positivity, the members are so friendly and it's so nice to see them encourage each other, something that is of a great help and inspiration when you are having a down day.
My favourite meal at the moment is my weekend dinner, in place of pizza and frozen chips, I now have SW chips which are delicious and a wrap based pizza topped with ham, cheese and tomato, it's so yummy.
I've had 2 alcoholic drinks since I joined and that was 2 glasses of wine on a night out for a birthday celebration. I have a lot going on from this weekend, nights out, work parties and lunches so I am a bit anxious as to how I'll manage but hopefully I'll be ok and make the right food choices.
I still need to up my physical activity and include some regular exercise in my daily routine, you'd think running around after a toddler would do it though!
I can already feel the effects of it on my mentality as well, I beginning to feel like the old me again, pre baby body and my clothes are starting to fit better than they have done in ages. It's so satisfying knowing that I am fuelling my body with the right foods.
All in all I'm 100% happy that I signed up to Slimming World to help me on my weight loss journey and I can't wait to report back in another few weeks where I'll hopefully have hit another milestone along the way :)

Now for the important bit:

Total amount of weight lost in 5 weeks: 11.5lbs

I am beyond delighted with this and it really is such an incentive to keep going when I see the scales coming down every week.

Are you a member of Slimming World? Or using another method to help you on a weight loss journey? I'd love to hear all about it.

You can read about my first week of Slimming World here.


Monday, 8 December 2014

The Santa Experience

On Saturday we took Luke on his first official Santa visit by going to The Santa Experience in Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street in Cork city.
First of all I never even knew there was a whole other floor in Dunnes Stores so I wasn't too sure what to expect and second of all it beat a lot of other places price wise. It was €10 per child and €2 per adult which was quite reasonable.
We went up to the top floor where it had been turned into Santa's grotto. We handed in our information sheet about Luke to the girl at the desk and then waited in line to be called.
After hearing our names off we went with the friendly elves through to Santa's post room where Luke proceeded to sit on all of the "sacks of post" and then try and run back out the door we came in through.
Soon after we walked down a lit up cave like walk way and went into the polar bear express type area, Luke was quite impressed with this, the elves were telling us about the baby polar bear and it's Mum and Dad and he kept calling "Baby", very cute.
Then it was onto the reindeer stables where there was a big sleigh waiting, after a quick chat about the reindeers the elves took the kids for a spin in the sleigh through to the next room here it was "snowing" and we would wait for our turn to see Santa. So far so good.
Santa's room was very good, a nice big tree, a fire, couch's for the parents to sit on and the kids on the floor while Santa had a chat with them. There was also Santa's bed in the corner which Luke spent the entire time trying to climb up on. On the information sheet we'd handed in at the start it asked for 2 things about your child that Santa could mention which I thought was a good idea. However Santa was wrapping up his friendly chat and he had forgotten about Luke so we had to say it where he quickly asked him how his pet dog, Murphy was, gave him a present and that was it. I did feel like Santa rushed through his chat with the kids, I'm not sure if it was because of the time of day, it was almost 5pm and he was just losing interest. I also wasn't too impressed when he Ssshh'd Luke when he let out a screech when we tried to keep him still for 2 seconds. I didn't get any pictures in Santa's room as there was no flash photography allowed.
We sat down for a picture with Santa which cost us €8, not bad really for an 8x10 and they take a few so you can pick which one you want, if not all of them.
The present itself wasn't really suitable for a 1 year old, a pop up book, it was no sooner opened and Luke had a bit of it ripped out. The whole thing lasted about 30mins
Overall it was a good experience, a 1 year old's attention span for these kind of things wouldn't be great and the time for the experience was ideal.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A To Do List For November - A Round Up

So at the start of November I set myself some goals for the month which you can read all about here. Now that the month has been and gone I suppose it' only right that I let you know whether I actually managed to stick to it! (That was the purpose of me posting online, an incentive to get these things done!)
So here you go, just how many of these tasks did I complete:

  • ü Two shelves for the utility cupboard - Bought and put in place, although we only need one in the end 
  • ü Paint the utility cupoboard - Done and dusted, it looks so much better and more organised now
  • ✗ New rug for the living room - Unsuccessful, I just can't find one I want 
  • ✗ I have yet to try out the Slimming Wraps, I will be trying them this week though
  • ✗ The spare room has just become even more cluttered by stuff, this will take longer than I thought
  • ✗ Toddler Group didn't happen but that's because our Fridays have been taken up with visits to nanny's garden and meeting friends
  • ü Bringing my lunch to work - This has been hugely successful due to joining Slimming World
So 3 out of 7, could have been better but the utility cupboard took longer than expected whic gave me less time for the spare room and it is impossible to find a rug the right size and design that I want!

I've more than enough going on in December so I won't be making any monthly plans for this month, but expect my usual January aims and goals and New Year resolutions :)

Happy December Everyone 


A Time For Giving

Last year I mentioned to the OH briefly about making a donation at Christmas a regular thing, we would pick a charity each year and donate in some way, be it financially or donating items such as clothing, food etc. We thought no more about it until yesterday when we had both decided to do it without remembering last years conversation and telling each other last night.

The OH has donated to the Mercy Hospital Fundraising Cancer Appeal in Cork this year and signed up for monthly donations. This is an issue close to his heart and he felt it appropriate to have this as his charity for 2015. The fundraising from this appeal is to help support the hospital in delivering the highest quality of care to its patients as well as supporting advancements and innovations for the care and treatments of it's patients. He signed up for this with a fundraiser who called to the house but you can find out more info by clicking on the link above.

I have chosen Focus Ireland to make a donation to this year. My drive to work recently has been filled with headlines on the radio of how the number of homeless people on the streets of Cork and nationwide have increased and I think the tragic news of Jonathan Corrie, a homeless man found dead in a doorway in Dublin this week has driven it home for me. Cork Simon Community have said that the number of people sleeping on streets of Cork have risen by 500% in the last 3 years. I find this statistic astonishing and it's made me determined to do what I can to help the situation, be it big or small, all of these donations together make a difference. For  more information please click on the link above.

And lastly while I was discussing this with my work colleague, she suggested doing something in the office too. We have 420 students between our 2 sites and decided that the St Vincent De Paul Food Appeal would be a great idea., donating food to families who will find it a struggle to feed their loved ones this festive season. We are asking our students to donate items from a shopping list provided by SVP and leave them in Reception up until December 22nd when we will arrange for someone form our local SVP office to collect the items. Please click on the above for more information about the 2014 Food Appeal.
We spend most of December running around trying to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones and it's easy to forget that there are people out there struggling, be it financially, fighting an illness or just getting through each day at a time with whatever resources they can find at the time. While these kind of donations are required all year long, I think Christmas is a good place to start.
Do you donate or volunteer with any organisations? I'd love to hear your stories. 

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