Thursday, 25 July 2013

Operation Go!

Callum was due to have his operation for his grommets to be fitted and a possible adenoidectomy on Tuesday 30 July (next week) but on Tuesday this week I received a call to say there had been a problem with the list for that day and they wouldn’t be able to do the operation. However, they had received a cancelation for Thursday 25 July (today!) which he could take instead of waiting. Stuart had already been making noises about how an important meeting had been put in his diary for the Tuesday that couldn’t be moved (of course, which he’d miss but wasn’t convenient) so he jumped on the opportunity to move it to Thursday, despite still needing to rearrange another couple of meetings. I did have to cancel my plans (for the 2nd time Sad smile), rearrange childcare and notify nursery but bringing it forward at least meant he still had the op before he started school and it gave us less time to worry about it!

In truth, I wasn’t too worried about the operation itself. Having had both done myself as a child (though I don’t remember the grommets only the adenoidectomy) as well as most of my siblings having similar and knowing many of my friends children have had the grommets, I was aware that it was a very common, routine operation which meant I knew I had little to be concerned about. Although there is always that slight niggle at t back of the head saying “what if my child is the 1 in 20,000???”. Mostly, I was worried for Callum. For him being scared! No one likes to see their child scared.

I tried to make it exciting, an adventure! I tried to point out the benefits and what it would mean. We said he could have any dinner of his choice after – he chose pizza.

The day before, he started saying he was poorly, that he didn’t want them to hurt his ears, getting upset that he wouldn’t be able to have his breakfast before we went in, wanting to stay at Nanna & Grandpa’s with Millie. He was clearly worried.

Still, he went to sleep early the night before (at his own request), having not eaten hardly any of his dinner, then he woke easily enough the next day bright and early, about 6am.

We needed to be at Poole hospital for 7.15am but got to the Day of Surgery Assessment Unit at 6.50am before the desk was even open but the time passed pretty quickly as patients started to fill the waiting room. People started being called this way and that and when Callum’s name was called we were shown into a side room while we were explained about what was going to happen and asked a number of questions about health etc by a nurse. Then the ENT Surgeon came and checked the same questions and warned us the same details would be checked about 9 times before the operation. Sure enough, next came the Anaesthetist, then another nurse type person did the same (who also sniggered with us about Callum’s camel called Tony & said he was going to use it in his stand-up routine but I digress) who then took us down to the Day Surgery Unit. He left us in a waiting area to count monkeys on the wall until another nurse came to see us and check the same details and ask the same questions then finally, about 8.45am, he was taken to the anaesthetist.

Only one of us was allowed to accompany Callum at this point until he fell asleep. Every part of the mother in me wanted that person to be me but I know that fathers have the protective instinct too so I left it to Callum to decide despite knowing Callum would choose Stuart. In a way, I’m pleased. The Anaesthetist had warned us seeing your child held down while either a gas mask was held on him or a intravenous drip of anaesthetic was fed into him wasn’t a pleasant experience for the adult even when they know he isn’t in pain. Apparently, Callum was calm & brave when they tried to find a vein in one arm then failed, got a bit upset when they tried the second arm but reacted well to the gas. Although I would’ve hidden my feelings, I think I would’ve found it upsetting to see.

The deal was, the surgeon would fit the grommets then check the adenoids and only remove them if necessary. If just the grommets were fitted it would take about 15 minutes. If the adenoids were removed too it could take 25mins to half an hour. They would then wait for him to wake before returning him to the Day of Surgery Assessment Unit where we would be waiting.

We were given a 15-20 minute window to go and get a cup of tea/something to eat but instructed to be no longer in case he was ready to return. Having gone without breakfast in support for Callum’s morning fast for the operation (despite it being the morning after a 500/600 kcal fast day for Stuart and I), we were starving! I also took the opportunity to nip to the car to fetch Callum’s present of a Fireman Sam book and chocolate buttons for when he had come round.

We were back on the ward in plenty of time and when he hadn’t returned after an hour were starting to get a little concerned but I guessed he must’ve had the adenoids removed too and he was soon returned to us.

He was a little drowsy and very subdued at first. He gulped back lots of water and then asked for something to eat so he had a biscuit. Then said he was still hungry and ate his way through 4 slices of toast (2 jam, 2 marmite), a chocolate muffin and some cheese dippers and was still asking for more food, bless him!

At 10.30am, they told us he should be able to go by 1.30pm. Yawn!

We passed the time, watching Disney dvds, reading his Fireman Sam book, playing on our phones, some of us nodding off (wish it was me!) and eventually, around 2pm, they set us free! Callum had picked up & had started playing with the ward toys at that time and was now dressed back in his normal clothes (he had be changed into just his pants & a gown for the surgery).

We then treated Callum to a game of bowling. Then we bought him a new outfit for his Build-a-Bear teddy and, as promised, headed for pizza. Unfortunately, just as we sat down in Pizza Hut, Callum started to deteriorate with his energy levels dropping and his temperature too. He ate just 1/4 of a slice of pizza and wanted to go home.

Already, we have noticed an improvement in his hearing and so far consider the operation a success and pleased he was returned to us safely afterwards. Time will tell just how much of an improvement it proves to be to his hearing and his speech.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Millie’s Naming: Amelia May Has Her Day

The day arrived for Millie’s Naming Day. As forecast, it was a beautiful morning.

The guests were requested to arrive at 2pm for the ceremony to start at 3pm with the exception of Stuart’s parents whom arrived the night before and a couple of friends had said they would journey down early to avoid the traffic and spend the morning on the beach so would arrive at ours about lunchtime to get ready. During the morning, we also received texts by friends announcing their train would arrive around 1pm and so there was a steady trickle of guests from 1pm really.

There was a moment when the weather clouded over & we feared it wasn’t going to be the gorgeous sunny day we were promised but the cloud was short lived and the sun popped its head out of the clouds again after an hour or so. We don’t get a lot of direct sunlight in our back garden anyway but it is still nice to have a sunny day and we certainly didn’t want rain.

I was a bit frantic at the start, trying to get final bits ready – thankfully, my Mum and Aunt took control of making the Pimms & Sangria and Millie was napping until about 1.30pm. When Millie woke, I got her dressed in her beautiful Monsoon dress.

The Humanist Celebrant, Brenda, arrived about 2.15pm and we went over anything outstanding and I introduced her to the Guiding Adults. As most of the guests were there already by 2.30pm we looked at starting he ceremony earlier than planned. We waited a little longer for a couple of stragglers but then actually made a start around 2.45pm. Brenda had suggested we put a couple of chairs out where the ceremony was to be held for Stuart and I to sit in. We had to stand for all of Callum’s so I was quite relieved we’d be sitting this time, especially as my heels had started to kill my feet after just 1 hour of wearing them! We took our places and the ceremony started. Stuart and I had already read the words that were to be said prior to the day but it was lovely to listen to them and to see the reaction of the audience.

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Brenda introduced members of our larger family, Callum & Millie exchanged gifts of friendship bracelets, the story behind Millie’s name and its meaning was explained, the Guiding Adults, of which there were 5 – Clare, Lorna, Daniel, Lisa, Keith, awkwardly did their part, bless them, and Stuart read his poem.

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There were only a couple of parts of the ceremony that didn’t go entirely to plan and that was the bubbles – we wanted bubbles to be blown by the children whenever there was applause but the bubbles we bought (from Asda!!!) were rubbish and I hadn’t thought to try them out before or refill them with the fantastic refill bottle I had at the ready (from Tesco Smile ) which would’ve worked brilliantly. I think the children pretty quickly lost interest when they couldn’t make their bubbles work. Also, midway through the ceremony someone in the park behind our house decided to start flying their remote control aeroplane! However, we made light of these incidents and the rest of the ceremony went beautifully. We then listened to a chosen song of Yesterday Once More by the Carpenters (the first song I remember hearing in the delivery room after Millie was born) while the Cava was poured and distributed (on hindsight it would’ve been a better idea to have had this poured before the ceremony started as there was a little delay while this was going on). Keith, one of the Guiding Adults, delivered the toast to our beautiful daughter Amelia May.

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After a polite stay, Brenda said her goodbyes and we waited for the hog roast take-away server to arrive. It took a while to set up and it looked like we had a lot of hungry guests, especially as the wonderful smells were starting to drift but finally the food was declared open – with a few sneaky steals of crackling before the official start! I was nervous about the food but thankfully it went down really well except perhaps the vegetarian, although being a tasty option, perhaps not large enough for some.

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The kids had a whale of a time, running around, playing with balloons, dressing up, chasing the Child Catcher (Keith). They were so well behaved!

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All the guests appeared to be enjoying themselves and getting merry.

I did find I continued to be quite frantic throughout and whenever I tried to sit down or chill I would find someone coming up to me informing me the toilet wasn’t flushing or a child asking me for a drink or informing telling me the food was ready to be packed up or a child was running out the front unsupervised to chase a balloon and, when people would comment on what a wonderful day it was and that I must be so pleased with how it had turned out, I just felt a bit frazzled. I felt like I had hardly chatted with anyone and everything had turned into a bit of a haze. Later in the evening once all the guests that weren’t staying had left, I got to chill with many large drinks and I could finally take a step back and reflect on how the day had gone and I was absolutely thrilled it went so well, proud of my friends and family and very flattered that so many people made their (for many) long and arduous journeys to get to, what was for us, a very special day to welcome our daughter. To have such amazing friends and family made me feel truly very rich in life. A couple of people the next day said, for me, it must have been very similar to a wedding which passes by in  a bit of a blur with you feeling like you didn’t get to spend any quality time with anyone. That is exactly what it was like for me.

Unfortunately, one dear set of friends didn’t make it as sadly they had to spend most of their day in A&E with their poorly baby daughter. Of course, they were missed but I felt for them as they kept me informed and dearly hoped to make it however late and if that was me, I’d just be wanting to spend time with my family recovering. Eventually, I suggested they drop their elder daughter round to have a play while the couple spent time catching up on some rest & looking after the other poorly daughter. It was a bit crazy for her, bless her, when she arrived but I tried to settle her in and introduced her to a few of the children & hopefully she had a good time while she was there and hopefully it gave her parents (and sister) a bit of time to regroup.

One of my friends kindly took charge of my phone and took photos and a video of the ceremony itself so here’s the video of the ceremony if you care to watch (00:16:33):

The next day came with a few sore heads but once the overnight guests had departed we opened the presents. Millie was thoroughly spoilt and we can’t thank people enough for their generosity and, for some, their creativity.

To all our guests, and specifically our Guiding Adults, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making our daughter’s Naming Day such a special day and one we will remember forever.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Millie’s Naming: The plan

Saturday, at exactly 11 months, Millie had her Naming Ceremony.

We had a naming ceremony for Callum too but we lived in Godalming then. We hired an area of our local pub which had a lovely garden which we hoped we’d be able to use if the weather was nice but unfortunately the weather was a bit unpredictable so we actually held it inside. It was a nice pub and they provided a light tea for after the ceremony (or people could buy their own meals if hungry). We set ourselves a budget of £250. £170 for the Humanist Celebrant (which was the going rate at that time) and then the rest for food. The venue hire was free and we agreed with the pub that they would provide tea for half the number of guests to keep the costs down.

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For Millie, we hoped to get a similar venue to what we had for Callum’s – a nice pub that may have a hire cost but provided the food for free or had free hire and we paid for food. Much research later, it was evident that this option wasn’t going to be possible. We looked into venues like AFC Bournemouth Football stadium, Goldsands and also a couple of hotels nearby but once you calculated the costs it wasn’t going to be cheap.

The first thing we did, before any venue deciding or invitation sending or even decide on a date, was find a Humanist Celebrant. It would’ve been nice to have the same person who performed Callum’s but the Celebrants tend to work in specific areas/counties unless you pay for their travel on top. We weren’t precious about having the same person so I searched the local area and contacted Brenda Harris. But that was nearly a bit of a palaver. Not the initial contact but trying to arrange the face to face meeting. Brenda was going on an extended holiday of about 4 weeks and she would get back the day before we were due to go on our own 2 week holiday meaning it would be mighty close to the actual naming day before we got to meet. Thankfully, as it turned out, we pushed our holiday back a week later so we met the week in between our respective holidays. Brenda also rather kindly went against usual practices and forwarded an information gathering document for us to complete while she was away so that it wasn’t all left to the last minute if we didn’t get to meet until the end of June and so she could start writing the ceremony while we were away.

The Humanist Celebrant was now £200 instead of £170. Stuart’s parents very generously offered to gift us some money towards the ceremony so that paid for the Celebrant. As we weren’t going to find a venue that provided either the hire free or the food, we decided we had to up our budget to a total of £400 (including the Celebrant) which left us with £200. No venue was coming in at £200 or less so we had this grand idea of hosting it at our house, in the garden. We would then spend the £200 on catering/food. It wasn’t until a couple of months after sending the invites that it dawned on us! Drink! The guests were going to expect drink! We hadn’t put ‘bring a bottle’ on the invites so they would probably expect us to provide it. If we had gone for a venue, the guests would have bought their own drinks. Doh! Budget now completely blown to (up) Uranus and back!

We invited 50+ guests (incl. children) and most of them accepted. That was another ‘bright idea’ that resulted in inflated cost! I thought, hey I’ll save some money and make the invitations myself! Hmmm! I was warned that if I went to Hobbycraft, I would spend twice what I intended and come out with things I never new I needed. Well, it wasn’t quite that bad but lets just say it would have definitely been cheaper to have bought them or even have had one of those online card/photo companies make them.

Then there’s the slight issue that I am not as ‘crafty’ as I think I am in my head. In my head I have such talent and creative flair but when I try to put pen to paper (or glue & glitter to card) it seems to seep out of my pores until by the time it reaches my hands I have the talent of a 6 year old! I opted for the ‘keep each one unique’ approach. No one card was the same! (that’s my story & I’m sticking to it!)

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We looked up a few options regarding food/catering: Hog Roast; Paella; M&S Catering; Sainsbury’s Catering; but finally decided to go for Hog Roast take-away (with server) but only made the final decision less than 2 weeks before the day. Having looked further into the M&S Catering or Sainsbury’s catering, we really weren’t going to get much for our money and it would require someone to go and pick it up straight after the ceremony (someone who wasn’t drinking). So we enquired whether a local Hog Roast caterer had any availability, fully expecting them to say no being prime wedding season! Thankfully, they had a space but we still ummed and ahhhed before we finally went ahead as it was still going to blow the £200 (again!).

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With just one weekend free before the ceremony, we then looked at our very weathered decking and realised we were going to have to stain it before the day. Stuart was away the weekend so that was left to me but with 2 kiddies running about, the only sensible time to do it would be after they had gone to bed. Thank heavens for clear, dry and light summer evenings. It took me about 3 nights to complete (over 2 hours each night) but it looked a thousand times better and was definitely the right move! I also tidied up a the garden a bit on that weekend before the event.

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The week leading up to the day, aside from staining the decking, I felt like I was running here there and everywhere, looking for outfits for Millie and I (I stuck with and old one in the end) and buying last minute bits. The credit card was red hot! Thankfully, Stuart did most of the booze shop but there were a few things we had forgotten like Cava for the toast. I finally found a suitable dress to buy Millie the day before the ceremony – well I actually saw it when I looked earlier in the week but wasn’t sure about it then when I went back to Monsoon, it was the first dress that caught my eye and practically jumped off the rail for me to buy it and I’m so pleased I did. She looked beautiful in it!

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So, to read our ‘planning’ you could say it was a bit hectic, disorganised and I was a tad stressed by the time the day arrived but to see if it was all worth it, read the next post about the actual ceremony and reception and think of this post as ‘how not to arrange a Naming Day!’

To be continued…

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Google Search: What should I do, my baby has eaten bird poo?

We had it easy with Callum. It may just be my memory sugar-coating it & so I’m looking back through rose tinted glasses but how I remember it is that if we told Callum “don’t” when he went to touch or do something he wasn’t allowed, it would only take a couple of times of saying this to him & moving him away for him to get bored and stop doing it. We had a cat which meant we had a litter tray and cat food – he only tried to eat the cat litter once and he never went for the cat food. We never got a stair gate because as soon as he showed an interest in the stairs, I taught him how to come down and he was very good at doing so correctly. We were very lucky!

I would have loved to have put it down to our parenting rather than accept we just had a pretty lazy little boy whose curiosity was easily & quickly satisfied. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are going to have it so easy with Millie!

Already, she is into everything even with her limited bum shuffle range. She will not accept “No”, “Don’t”, etc, regardless of how many times we tell her, move her, distract her!

She goes for everything she shouldn’t!

She already has a list of 'gross’ things she has eaten (I say eaten, none of which she has actually swallowed except number 4) which currently consists of:

  1. Loves licking suncream, I have to keep the bottle way out of her reach while putting it on but even when I’ve just put it on she starts licking it off.
  2. Flipflops, slippers & other shoes – she always manages to make her way to the shoes when I’m distracted! Or best yet, when I’m wearing them! She was going for a man’s trainers at swimming today!
  3. Plant leaves
  4. Sand
  5. Stones
  6. Contents of her nappy bin
  7. And the best yet – bird poo!

Clearly I don’t let her eat these things, it will be at the first opportunity my back is turn for just a second or while I’m running for the loo. I’ll check she is clear from anything I think she is going to go for and sure enough, I return to find she has found something I haven’t thought of or has wanted it enough to bum shuffle at some speed!

After the ease of Callum, I would’ve called Social Services on myself if I hadn’t have had friends when Callum was little who shared their own stories of weird & wonderful things their darlings had managed to consume. Cat/dog food appears to be a firm favourite. Considering we are just about to get a kitten I’ll look forward to that!

We may have to rethink our no child-proofing “they’ll learn the hard way” approach to parenting for this one!

Please make me feel better – what weird & wonderful things have your LOs eaten…bet you can’t top bird poo!!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Two Adults, Two Kids and Tunisia

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I’m back from my holidays and now I’ve to try to fit 2 weeks of holiday action into a succinct blog post – eek! Sorry if this goes on a bit but I will try to keep it to the point!

 

The destination was Holiday Village Manar, Hammamet, Tunisia. Neither Stuart nor I had been to Tunisia before, our experience of ‘All Inclusive’ (we had previously stayed in hotels which were SC but offered AI and our friends and family shared their own experiences) wasn’t that great and when they say 5* it’s often a 4* facilities hotel with 3* cleanliness and quality so maybe 2 weeks in a place we didn’t know with 2 kids, 1 under one was a bit ambitious but hey…we’re up for an adventure.

Thankfully, the hotel was lovely, extremely clean, lots of very attentive staff, very family friendly with lots to do for all ages and food was good (very important for us and the one thing we were particularly nervous of).

Even better, we could fly there from our local airport, Hurn Airport in Bournemouth!

The flight was an early one which required Stuart and I to get up at 2.30am but we left Millie to sleep until just before time to go hoping she would sleep in the car etc. but the excitement of doing something completely strange while still dark outside & in her PJs was just too much and she didn’t sleep until we got to our hotel.

Both kids were fine on the flight. Millie was a bit of a fidget but the flight was less than 3 hours so any fidgeting was manageable. I was armed with a goody bag for Callum to keep him entertained, containing colouring books/pencils, new Lego toy, sweets, new Mr Man book, stickers and a few other bits. I had rolls and snacks in my bag to keep them going.

When we got to Tunisia, the coach transfer was 50 minutes. We were welcomed in reception of the hotel and our All Inclusive bands were snapped on our wrists. Hoorah! We had arrived!

Our hotel room was basic and a little small for a family of 4 and required a bit of furniture arranging to get comfortable and practical. The ‘master’ bedroom where Stuart and I slept (on 2 single beds pushed together made up as single beds – why do the do this? they could at least make them up as a double!) originally housed the cot but we moved this out to the ‘lounge’ area which is where Callum’s bed was made up – one of the sofa’s made into a bed. We turned the chest of drawers into a change unit putting a spare duvet on top followed by my travel change mat & a towel. The main thing about the hotel room that was quite annoying was that there were only 2 plug sockets, one of which was in a really inconvenient place to use. When you are frequently sterilising and making up bottles as well as trying to keep phones and cameras charged this is a bit inadequate. Our room had a balcony which had a sea-view and we also looked down on to the kids club & playground which we personally found ideal being so close.

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Before we went, we were debating whether it was worth pre-ordering a Baby Pack which would have been ready in our room when we arrived and contained items like steriliser, bottles, highchair, buggy plus you could request your usual nappies and formula to be available for a fee. Because we wanted to take our own buggy to use at the airport, we didn’t need a highchair and we weren’t confident in trusting them to get the correct nappies or formula we decided against pre-ordering it, to take the nappies & formula we thought we would need as well as our own bottles but would request the steriliser when we arrived. This turned out to be a good idea as we weren’t charged for the steriliser and kettle (with tea & coffee) – although there were no instructions for the steriliser so it was a bit ‘make it up as you go along’. Also, like I said above, you had to juggle with the plug sockets but we managed OK. I was also pleased we went with our own nappies and formula as I only saw size 4 nappies (Millie is a size 3) which was fine when we needed a few more nappies at the end of the holiday but were still a bit big. This led me to believe they wouldn’t have had the right formula either but I don’t know this for sure.

Both kids adapted to a new routine really quickly. We only stayed out past 10pm a couple of nights. Once I was even in bed by 9 as I was so tired ha ha. Millie would sleep in her buggy of an evening and be transferred into her cot later. Millie slept really well throughout the holiday both during the day and the night – the only exception would be when we went on excursions as it would be typical that Millie would just dose off when we would need to wake her to get off the coach or get back on the coach! She wasn’t grumpy as a result though.

Millie ate really well the first week and appeared to love trying so many new foods. The second week, whether due to teething or upset tummy from drinking mineral water or perhaps both, Millie went right off proper solid food and pretty much stuck to a milk only diet. Her nappies became explosive and after several washes & all sorts of vanish concoctions later, I’m still hoping they are not completely ruined! The first day back home in the UK and her appetite returned. Callum loved choosing his own food but would typically stick to Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza, Chips, sometimes meat, fruit, cake and ice-cream. He would frequently over-fill his plate though which pained me to see so much food go to waste.

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So that Stuart and I occasionally got to eat together rather than one going up with Callum while the other stayed with Millie then vice versa, Stuart suggested we took it in turns to get both meals, choosing for the other person. This also kept the meals more interesting as we would try things we wouldn’t normally have chosen. There were plenty of highchairs around the restaurant but if not one immediately available, the waiters would quickly go get one for you. I took steriliser wipes which I occasionally needed to wipe over the highchairs but more often the staff would thoroughly wipe it down for us before using and if not it was no trouble if I asked them to do so.

The buffet restaurant, Jasmine, was themed each night so, although their were a few of the same dishes that appeared every night maybe with one different ingredient or one night the ratatouille was curried slightly for a ‘change’, there were still plenty of different dishes to keep it interesting. There were also 2 (out of an advertised 3) a la carte restaurants open which you could book once a week (not sure why 3rd wasn’t open). We went to the Tunisian restaurant, Sofra, on my birthday night (Friday of the first week) and the Asian restaurant, Mai Tai, during the second week. Sofra was much better than Mai Tai but we actually thought the food served in the Jasmine restaurant was much better.

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In addition to these restaurants there was a snack bar open during the day that offered burgers, hot dogs, chicken wraps, freshly made pizzas, a few other hot dishes, salads, cakes and fruit. Oh and ice cream.

There were lots of swimming pools and activities to choose from. There was a general pool in between 2 toddler pools which had brightly coloured slides and fountains in. Behind this were the 7 big watershutes into a separate pool (only used for the watershutes). There was a Chill Pool where they held Swimming Academy swimming lessons (at a cost) and was a quieter pool for adults and children to use. Nearer our section of the hotel was an Activity Pool and child’s pool where they had the DJ shack and family activities taken place, games, challenges,  waterpolo for over 16s (which Stuart and I took it in turns to play a couple of times) or just jumping in and splashing about. There was also a bar attached to this pool. Finally, I only discovered it on the last day, but there was also an indoor pool and Jacuzzis which were free to use in the Spa. Callum loved the big watershutes although, because he was a cm too short to ride them, he was told he could use them if he wore arm bands. We didn’t use the Chill Pool and spent most of our time by the general pool and the Activity Pool.

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Other activities we joined in with were rounders (on the beach) and archery.

We went on two excursions. Market Fever which took you to 2 Medinas (markets to you and me), to lunch and to wine tasting. It was meant to include a pottery demonstration too but that didn’t happen for some reason. The other excursion was a Pirate Ship. We actually went on a proper pirate ship with crew dressed up as pirates that danced and performed a display on the rigging. The ‘punch’ was revolting! But there were other soft drinks available & probably done on purpose to dissuade drunken parents in charge of minors on a boat! There were joke telling competitions (lost count of the times I heard the joke “Where do Pirates like to shop?” Arrrrrrgos) and a Dad dancing competition and pirate face painting. It was a bit of a money sinker because they came round selling pirate necklaces and bandanas and then a ‘tip box’ at the end which was a little cheeky but we succumbed and bought Callum a bandana. After a while the boat was anchored so we all had a chance for a swim. Stuart and Callum went in first then I went in towards the end. So pleased I did it this time as I chickened out when we took Callum to Portugal.

When we booked we were really pleased they had a crèche facility (additional cost) and fully expected to take advantage but, in reality, Millie was so easy and gave us the occasional break when she slept so we decided not to bother. Callum did attend the kids club (inclusive) a few times. After the first session he didn’t seem that bothered and was hesitant to go back. I think they stayed in and just listened to stories so we made sure the next one he did was outdoors and fun and by the end of the holiday he was asking to go, saving the best to  last – Alex’s Jungle Party (Alex being the Lion from Madagascar) with lots of chocolate. This one, as with a couple of the evening or more involved sessions were at an extra cost of about £15 dinar which was about £6. We wouldn’t have bothered with one of the sessions you had to pay for but it meant getting him out of our hair while we packed to go home and it sounded like he had a great time.

The staff at the hotel genuinely loved children but Millie got lots of attention and not just from the staff. I felt a bit for Callum at times but he mainly appeared proud of his little sister.

Other than the 2 excursions, we didn’t really venture out of the hotel/resort except once to visit our friends in neighbouring Yasmine Hammamet who were by chance holidaying at the same time as us – would’ve been a shame to miss an opportunity to meet up with them.

In the evening, the entertainment was as you’d expect for a family holiday venue. They had an outdoor venue for the hotter months in an amphitheatre with a bar attached just up some steps. The children would sit on benches just in front of the stage, either red or yellow depending on their age. Then the entertainment staff would play a number of games with audience participation (of course, focusing on the kids but sometimes adults would get involved), then there was bingo (had to buy tickets – we didn’t play and often too this as our queue to head back to the hotel room), then a kind of game show thing which was pitting two families against each other and then the night would end with a cabaret type show. One night they put on a pantomime instead. Callum loved it and it was so sweet to see him trying to join in with the i5live songs and dances they did every night (still struggling to get the Chocco Chocco Latte song out of my head!).

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The only real disappointment all holiday was that I lost my mobile phone on the Wednesday of the second week – especially as it had my photos on it from the pirate ship. But hey ho, these things happen and I wasn’t precious about the phone itself. It means I also have to grudgingly admit Stuart was right when he advised me not to buy my new phone before I went on holiday in case it got lost, stolen or damaged.

Guess all that’s left now is to share with you my tips. As this blog post is already long enough, I’ve decided to create a separate blog post for this so just click here to read on.

Oh, and here are a few more holiday snaps:

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