Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The importance of choosing the correct car seat

The first car seat I ever had was a gift from a friend. It was eleven whole years ago now and it began a long and varied affair with them.

I loved that car seat - it was such a simple design, safe, easy to use - it stayed with me for over four years as my daughter's brothers arrived and took her place in it.

Our next car seat wasn't such a hit. Expensive, top of the range, it's safety record was impeccable. But it was so ridiculously hard to install that I often sat sweaty and tearful in the back of the car as yet again I tried to figure out where exactly the seatbelt slipped through and what the hell those red clips did. Moving the shoulder straps was equally as bad. Like a version of the krypton factor with the added complications of only having had 2.5 hours sleep all night, a toddler trying to scale your back and a baby screaming. Let's not go back there.

I'm quite sure that more than once I had that car sear installed incorrectly, meaning that the safest seat in the world became a hazard.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Choosing the right car seat for your child means not only knowing their weight and height at each stage, but also whether the chosen seat is appropriate for your particular car. I remember being completely flummoxed by the terms and sizes available in those early years. Forward facing, rear facing, measurements in kgs, measurements in lbs, isofix, boosters...*head melts*

I spent my first six years of motherhood in a constant sleep deprived state and all I wanted was someone to look at my child, look at my car and say - 'Get this type. Install it this way. Now off you go'. It never happened though.

But now it can.



How?

RSA (Road Safety Authority) have been running a really fantastic programme called 'Check it Fits' all over Ireland for the last few years. Launched in 2013 Check it Fits is an entirely free national child car seat checking service. Aimed at both parents and guardians of children up to approx age 12, anyone can go along to their mobile checkpoints to have the fitting of their car seat assessed. The team of experienced car seat experts will check the fitting and appropriateness of the seat for both the child and the car.

Where?

The mobile unit travels around Ireland continually, visiting approx 3 venues per week, doing over 50 checks a day. Each check takes approx 10 - 15 minutes. To find your next local Check it Fits date and location you can go to www.rsa.ie/checkitfits. RSA on Facebook will also keep you updated.

Why?

Seeing the statistics provided by the RSA in relation to these checks you can immediately see why they are so important. Like me many parents and guardians are confused when it comes to choosing, fitting and overseeing child car seats. From over 7500 checks carried out by RSA a shocking 82% had incorrectly fitted or applied car seats. And of those a terrifying 75% were major installation errors.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

I wonder how many of us are right now driving around with our children in car seats that we fully believe to be safe and secure but are in fact death traps.


So the moral of the story is - get your car seat checked by a professional as soon as possible. It saves lives. It could save your child's life.

End of lecture.


Disclosure: I am working in collaboration with RSA for a series of posts on the importance of child car seats and the correct use of them. If you have any queries or concerns that you would like to raise on the matter please feel free to contact me and I will pass them over to RSA. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

42 and Thankful


42 today.

This day two years ago, as I hit the big 4-0, I sat at the bottom of a waterfall in the sunshine watching the world and contemplating life. My husband had packed a picnic and games for the kids, and we lay contentedly on the rug, reading the papers and sipping on prosecco as the children played ball and paddled in the clean, crisp stream. To anyone watching we were the perfect happy family enjoying a perfect happy day out.

Five months later I stood at a big kitchen table in a foreign country wrapping the children's Christmas presents and quietly weeping as my life unravelled around me.

When I think of all that has happened in those two years I am thankful.

Thankful that I married a good man that showed his worth as we unmarried ourselves.

Thankful that we have remained good friends who talk daily, always put the kids first, and even holiday together.

Thankful that he now laughs at my messy house and disorganised life, instead of getting irritated by it. And thankful that I no longer care.

Thankful for our families who stood by us both without taking sides.

Thankful for our incredible kids who never cease to amaze me in how they adapt to and understand such huge changes in their lives.

Now, as I turn two years older than I was when I sat below that waterfall, I feel ten years younger.

I no longer have a billion thoughts and emotions flickering behind my eyes as my mind ticks over in constant confusion. I no longer am half present in all that I do.

When I laugh I do it with my whole being, when I dance I fully let go, when I get angry I only have myself to blame, when I talk to people I properly engage with them. I am here, in the moment. In Life.

42 today. And thankful.





Sunday, July 12, 2015

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - A perfect family day out


Last week my kids embarked on their first plane journey without me as they set off from Dublin with their Dad to visit the city where he was born - Portsmouth.

All their young lives they've heard about Portsmouth, done school projects on Portsmouth, been 'encouraged' to support Portsmouth FC, worn the kit, bought the t-shirt, but never visited. And so they were off. Just before leaving we were coincidentally offered some family tickets to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - a place earmarked already as a must see due to the iconic HMS Vistory being housed there. So we snapped them up and off they all went with instructions to report back to me.

Here's what they got up to...

The hightlights.
They all loved touring the huge ships - HMS Vistory - the oldest serving warship still in commission, and HMS Warrior 1860 - which was the largest warship in the world and is now fully restored and serving as a museum, monument and visitor attraction.











The Harbour Tour was also a clear winner:












And of course a trip the dockyard wouldn't be complete without a popping to the top of Spinnaker Tower.


Also included in the dockyard attractions are:

The Mary Rose museum
Action Stations - which is home to one of Europe's tallest indoor climbing walls
The National Museum of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy Submarine Museum

There are coffee shops, restaurants and picnic areas too.

Whether you are originally from Portsmouth or just visiting, the Dockyards are a fantastic day out - in fact there's so much to see and learn you may well need more than just one day.

Excitingly, this month there’s a "one-off chance to get out on the water for a bird’s eye view of The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. You can get the chance to check out the sailing action with specially chartered boat tours from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is part of Portsmouth Naval Base, which is playing host to the technical area and team base,  effectively the pit lanes of the premier racing circuit. The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series comes to town from Thursday 23rd July and Sunday 26th July."

For more check out Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 

Disclosure: We were provided with an annual family pass to the dockyards in order to review the attraction. 



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Camp Bestival - 6 reasons you really should go

I'm going to Camp Bestival!! *does a happy dance*

Want to come too? There's still time to book your family a weekend break that they will never forget.


Camp Bestival 2015 takes place between 30th July and 2nd August in Ludlow Castle in Dorset. It's a family festival extravaganza that has far too much on offer to list here, but these are a few of the reasons I can not wait to bring my family along to it.

1. Kids love a festival.

I've done festivaling and I've done family festivaling, and whilst the two are very different there is something wonderfully wholesome about seeing your kids at one with a community of others. It may only be a long weekend but it's an insight into another world. Everyone is on holiday, everyone is happy, there is continual entertainment on tap, nobody gets bored, everyone gets to explore and find their own special corner of wonder, and the memory making moments are everywhere.


Credit: Camp Bestival

2. Camping.

Don't be scared. Embrace the early sunrise. Step on the dewy grass as the campsite around you begins wakes up. Forget about mirrors and make up. Remember the fact that there is no housework. Sneak back to the quiet haven of an empty tent for an afternoon snooze. Sip wine from plastic cups as the children sleep and the sound of music rolls over the hills.



Not convinced? Camp Bestival has a whole host of luxury glamping on offer too. So scratch that as an excuse.



3. Dress up!

Time to get wild. This year's theme is Camp Bestival goes wild, so not only do you get to don some facepaint and get into your wild things onsie - there are also tons of 'getting back to nature' activities. From tree climbing and tree hugging to camp fire tales and even sleeping out under the stars. There's also shows and talks from the likes of Steve Backshall, Bill Odie and Michaela Strachan.



4. The Line Up.

There's just no point in trying to list all the amazing things on offer so I won't even try. Oh ok then I will. Here's just a few that my family will be excited about:

The Kaiser Chiefs (The boys)
Ella Henderson (The Girl)
Hollie McNish (My girl crush who I've written about before)
Underworld
Professor Green
Terry Hall

Not to mention the crafts, nature, Bollywood bar, horse riding, song shack, wand making, sword creating, bubble shows and fireworks.

Credit: Camp Bestival

5. The magic moments

One of the best things about Camp Bestival is all the opportunities to find those magic moments. When you stumble on a fairy lit path that leads to a secret garden party, or get lost in the woods and happen upon an awesome reggae band, or when you curl up for a bit of quiet time on some huge Moroccan cushions and sip peppermint tea in the sunshine, or when you watch your kids rolling in grass playing air guitar to their new favourite band, or, or, or...

Credit: Camp Bestival

6. The Extras

And as if all that wasn't enough there are extras that you wouldn't believe.
Open air hot tubs, restorative massage, yoga, meditation, pamper stations, farmers markets, amazing food stalls... I may not come home at all.

But don't just go on what I'm saying, these ladies have all been before and keep going back for more - check out their pictures and you'll see why.

Katy Hill - Camp Bestival 2013
Mammasaurus - Camp Bestival 2014

Tickets for Camp Bestival:

Adult Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £195*
Student Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £180*

Age 15 to 17 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £113*
Age 11 to 14 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £88*
Age 5 to 10 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £20*
Age 4 & Under Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) – FREE (but ticket required)*

There are also campervan \ caravan spots, ready pitched tents, and lots of glamping options.

COMPETITION:
Netmums are running a competition for a full family weekend pass here. Comp closes 20th July so hurry!






Disclosure: I have been provided with free family weekend tickets in order to review and report on Camp Bestival. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Letting go


As we near the end of our journey together the knot in my stomach grows tighter. We chat away about all the great things that are in store and I try hard to bury my emotions from view. As the airport gets closer the silence looms louder until one of the boys speaks.

'Are you ok Mummy?'

'Oh I'm fine darling. Just fine'.

But when I look back my poor boy has big crocodile tears streaming down his face.

'I will miss you' he says, and I just like that I feel like I have been dealt the sucker punch. I'm winded.

I don't like being in a different county to my children, let alone a different country, but they are off to England with their Dad for five whole days. Longer than I have ever been apart from them since the first was born eleven years ago.

In fact, years after the birth of each of them there is still an invisible umbilical cord that holds them to me, and the further and longer I am pulled apart from them the harder it yanks at my heart.

It is a fun trip they are going on. A lovely trip, that will be filled with friends and godparents and grandparents. They will get to see where their Dad was born and brought up, and meet relations they have never known.

But.

I worry about them and I worry about me.

At the airport entrance, as I hug and smile and hug some more I fight against the feeling that it isn't right. I know that it will be a great experience for them all and now they are older they can all survive quite happily without me. They are growing up. Becoming independent. But it feels less like they are slipping through my fingers and more like they are being pulled away from me as I desperately try to grab hold of their hands.

I wave them off with a fixed grin on my face, and then I drive back alone listening to sunny tunes and singing back the tears.

Five days to go.




Thursday, July 2, 2015

Through Hell and High Water

I've been dabbling in triathlon training over the past few months with vague plans to do 'something' this summer. Having realised that there is nothing that helps training more than pure fear I have bitten the bullet and signed up to some events.

I haven't been training for the cycling because I am completely hopeless at cycling, and I am completely hopeless at cycling because I haven't been training. I really need to do something about that soon...

In the meantime - one down, four to go.

June:

  • Dublin Mini-Marathon (10k run)


Done! With a PB of 53:19.

Credit: Running for Gavin

July:

  • Aquathon (750m Sea Swim \ 5k Run)

This is me in training last night.
Credit: East Coast Swimmers

August:

  • Dublin Triathlon (750M swim, 16k cycle, 5k run). Gulp.


Credit: Alan Rowlett

  • 2K sea swim (with this lot)


Credit: East Coast Swimmers

Sept:

  • Hell and Back (Adventure race)


I did this one a few years ago and swore never again. And yet...



If you would like to sponsor me for any or all of these events (you know, for extra motivation \ fear \ guilt) I would be extremely grateful. All money raised with go to my friend's charity - The Gavin Glynn Foundation, which you can read more about by clicking the link.

Sponsorship can be sent to me via Paypal at katetakes5@gmail.com - just be sure to tag your transfer 'Gavin Glynn Foundation'.

I'll let you know how it goes. Unless I chicken out of course.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A family wedding

My beautiful little sister got married at the weekend.

It was a day filled with sunshine and smiles, fairy lights and fiddles, sore feets and dancing, and ok, maybe a few beverages. In fact, three days later and I'm still recovering... So here's a little look behind the scenes in pictures.

Cousins
Cousins

Sisters

Big bro

Other Bro
Aunty & Nephew

Siblings


Mr and Mrs.
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