Sawadee

Our idea for Christmas gifts last year was to book a trip to Thailand and travel on Boxing Day with my sister and her family. We booked early with Emirates and were able to get business class flights at £1800 each. From the moment we left our door at home we were looked after. A chauffeur came to collect us and took us to the terminal. We then enjoyed the complimentary food and drinks of the departure lounge. Our flight was delayed due to fog in Dubai and further delayed once we were on board as the wings had frosted over. The staff were 1st class they introduced themselves personally and took your choice for lunch and gave out complimentary champagne. They were very attentive and furnished us with hot towels and regular drinks orders. Their cocktail menu is fantastic and I enjoyed one or two. The entertainment system was OK. I feel virgin Atlantic’s is better. The seat was the selling point, it lay almost flat and came with a mattress which made it even more plush. Ezra at the time was 19 months old and the cabin great were great at keeping him entertained and allowing him to walk around the galley.

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Our first stop was Dubai and we made our way to the lounge as we had a 2 and a half hour lay over. The toilet/shower facilities were great to freshen up in. There was an abundance of seating areas with charging points. The WiFi was great and a wide range of complimentary hot and cold food and drinks were available. We then boarded the airbus which had the wow factor it was so luxurious at the rear of the craft was a bar and each seat had its only mini bar with soft drinks. The seat lay completely flat into a bed and the entertainment system was an upgrade to the previous aircraft. I actually didn’t want to sleep as I was enjoying the facilities so much.

We woke in Bangkok and enjoyed a breakfast. It was nothing to write home about and I expected more. We were given priority passes for immigration which were great as the queues were huge. Once through we had to collect our luggage and check in to our internal flight to Koh Samui. We flew with Bangkok airways the aircraft was very old and tired and the food not appetising at all so take snacks. Luckily the flight is only 1 hour.

Landed in Koh Samui and seeing the sunshine and the palm trees made us realise we were in paradise. Koh Samui has the cutest airport ever. You get that island vibe. Our driver was there to great us and took us to our Villa. We booked via Eats and Retreats which was problem free. On arrival to Villa Floramare the staff welcomed us with cold drinks, fresh towels and smiles. We understood through booking that a maid would visit daily but she was actually with us from 8 am until about 5 pm every day. She spoke little English but we were still able to communicate with her. She cooked for us when needed and sent our washing to the launderette. The villa itself was beautiful and we had the most idyllic view. We were in paradise. The only downside to the villa was the stairs to get up and down every day, the fencing around the pool area and the situation. We had issues at times getting taxis to come up to the hill. It was very steep but the management services of the villa would send taxis when needed.

Several of our evenings were spent in the Fisherman’s village. There’s an abundance of bars and restaurants. Travelling as a family we felt safe and also did not witness any prostitution. We spent our days either playing by the pool or sunbathing on Mae Nam beach. We loved Mae Nam beach as it was clean, not too busy and you didn’t get bothered by beach vendors.

We did hire a driver for the day and he took us to the tourists spots of the island. Please remember to dress appropriately when visiting these places and respect the rules of their religious sanctuaries.

We also took a trip to Lamai and Chaweng Beach. Lamai was pretty small and littered with rubbish which included needles (hoping this isn’t always the case and was just the aftermath of the recent storms) and Chaweng was full of vendors which pestered you at times. For lunch we went to the Cliff. It was a little pricey but the food and service was brilliant. We returned to Chaweng one night to visit the markets. We got there early to avoid the crowds. The market sold clothes (mainly for the locals) and had a range of food markets. The locals ate here so we knew it must be good. Be warned that most street vendors don’t get checked for hygiene so be wary when eating from then. Then  we ate some more food at a local restaurant. Not the best for families as the toilets were not hygienic. I’d say Chaweng is more for back packers and younger people. We didn’t hang around for long as Chaweng is prolific for prostitutes and go go bars. Not really appropriate when with your little ones. I’ve been flashed a catalogue of the lady region in my past when partying there.

We also chartered a speed boat for the day and travelled out to the Ang Thong Marine Park. Our captain and crew were great and they guided us through our journey. The Emerald Lake is beautiful but very busy. Tip……..make sure you are wearing trainers as there’s lots of steps to get up and down. We took the boys with us but we had to carry the baby as the stairs were crowded at points. We also travelled to another island which in a way broke my heart. The rubbish in our oceans is washing up on these pristine beaches. As man we really have ruined our haven. The use of plastic really is an issue.

As we were on the island during New Years eve we booked a gala dinner at Lana. We were all dressed up and ready to party to be told they had not received our booking as the London office took our booking. None the less the Manager was very facilitating and organised our own private seating area and gave us a complimentary bottle of wine for the inconvenience. We enjoyed a tasting menu and loved the traditional Thai dancing and entertainment. With four sleepy children we made it back to the villa before 12 and watched the fireworks explode over the beach.

A few days later we flew up to Bangkok to end our trip. The journey to the capital was quick but the taxi ride into Bangkok was long as we hit rush our and we were at standstill for majority of the journey. However we had a warm welcome at the Eastin Grand Hotel.  We had a quick change and got the sky train then boat down river to the reclining Buddha. The boat was extremely busy and sweltering hot and the staff intimidating at times. There was a lady who just walked up and down the boat pushing people and screaming  in Thai.

We paid on arrival at the reclining Buddha and really enjoyed a casual walk around the grounds. As it was close to closing times there were no crowds and we were able to fully appreciate our surroundings. We decided to avoid the chaos of the boat and got a taxi back to the hotel. The taxis in Bangkok are quite reasonable and the sky train is cheap as chips and so clean. They have air con too.

The next day we got up early to visit the Grand Palace. This time we got a long boat down river. We thought by going early we’d beat the crowds. How wrong were we?!!! It was so hectic the place was littered with tour groups people shoving and pushing. The whole trip was stressful. People were stopping to take photos of baby Ezra. Most Thai people have not seen a baby with blue eyes and blonde hair so it was quite a site for them to witness. We really didn’t enjoy our palace visit which was such a shame. I visited 8 years ago and remembered it so much differently.

We made our way back to grab a long tail boat home but it just seemed like there was no organisation. After waiting 20 minutes or so in the blistering heat we decided to grab a tuk tuk. You have to really barter with the prices and stick to your guns as they’ll charge your over the odds if they can.

Back at the hotel we played by the pool and grabbed lunch. Then later that evening we walked down the road to Laabubon. We were probably the only white people in there however we knew that was a good sign. The food was absolutely delicious and so cheap. We ordered a full chicken, prawn fried rice, papaya salad, soft drinks and beer and it cost us not even £15.

The next day was time to check out so after a morning by the pool we sought shade at Siam Paragon and visited the aquarium. The aquarium itself is fantastic and we really enjoyed strolling around we then went to the food court and jeez it was busy. There was people everywhere. Not family friendly at all, so hectic. We grabbed a bite to eat then decided just to hang out the hotel for our transfer.

Our trip to Thailand was amazing, it has a very special place in my heart so it was great taking my husband boys there. I love Thailand, you never get a bad meal, the people are friendly and the service is 1st class. Tips for families would be make sure you have an easy fold-able stroller there are lifts but they are not reliable also the paths in Koh Samui were terrible and at some points no paths at all so rather than walking we’d have to grab taxis. Flying business class is such a treat for us but was worth every penny. We travelled 27 hours from our home in County Durham to our villa in Koh Samui. I must say my two boys were real superstars and never once acted up or caused me to have a mental breakdown. We opted for a villa in Koh Samui so we could spend the holiday as a family and not be in separate rooms. Also remember to take change of clothes for the little ones. Poor Ezra projectile vomited on the flight home so the spare clothes were a god send. If staying in Bangkok try and stay in close vicinity to the Sky Train. As I said its super cheap and most ticket staff speak English so will advise you what stop you need to get.

Next stop is Milan. Can’t wait. Isn’t Italy the home of Gucci 😉

The big apple

In November my beautiful bestie and I took a trip the the big apple……New York!!!!! We flew with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow. I love Virgin as an airline the staff are great, the food is good, the seats are comfortable and the on-board entertainment is fantastic. We flew at 8pm and arrived in New York at maybe 10 pm local time. Immigration was a timely affair but what you going to do. We grabbed a yellow cab please do not take and unlicensed taxi 1. they aren’t insured and 2. they don’t have a set price and potentially could rip you off.

We arrived at the Fairfiled Inn and Suites by Marriott which was situated close to Broadway. The room was comfortable but quite small but our intention was to be out all day so we only needed to lay our heads. Breakfast was included with our room and it was great. It was self serve buffet style canteen with fresh coffee, juices, hot and cold food. We filled up and made our way down to Battery Park to meet for our tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island. Our tour guide was great. She was upbeat, friendly and had a wealth of knowledge. We booked this trip with Viator and would highly recommend.

Following our tour we took a wander to a local food market Smorgasburg which was so delicious. Definitely go if you have the chance. Even though it was chilly we were still able to grab a bench and eat in the sunshine.

We then wandered through the streets enjoying the sites and shopped a little then had a quick pit stop to Carlos Bakery. It was rammed and if I’m totally honest it wasn’t the best. I think people go as it’s a brand they recognise. I tried a cannoli and lobster tail as I’ve never had either. They weren’t what I imagined both were very crunchy and the cannoli was very heavy.

Following a quick change we power walked up to Times Square to watch Chicago. The production itself is very basic and you can’t help but sing along.

After the show we grabbed a slice and retreated to the hotel. For some much needed rest. The next day we were up early again and had a splurge at Sephora. I bought Christmas gifts for my nieces and treat myself to a foundation and moisturiser. Which I absolutely love. We then went to my favourite shop Victoria Secret and took advantage of tax free shopping. I was in sports legging heaven. After all that sending we were on the best doughnuts in nyc ……Dough.

They were definitely worth the walk. It took me ages to decide on what I wanted so I had two. Which were the cafe au lait and the salted chocolate caramel. Then I wondered why my leggings were a bit tight.

After a quick bag drop at the hotel we made our way downtown to walk across the Brooklyn bridge and venture around Dumbo off course we needed a pip stop which included an Aperol spritz.

We got kinda lost on our way and didn’t take in the iconic bridge as we needed to wee so bad. After having two babies your bladder strength isn’t what it used to be.

A much needed food stop was needed and from instagram we found Juliana’s. Omg!!! One of the best pizzas I’ve ate. It was huge. Could have finished it but I didn’t fancy a roll up hill

The walk home was a lot more chilled and seeing Manhattan at night was great.

The next day we started a visit to the Rockerfeller Center. This is my 2nd visit here but the view is just as special 2nd time round. We decided to visit early to take in the view and not be over crowded.

We then wandered through Central Park and visited the American Museum of Natural History . I love visiting places you see on the movies. Me and my son especially love the night at the museum and he would have loved this museum it has everything and you could literally spend hours exploring.

 

As we were in the neighbourhood we had to make a visit to Levain according to Facebook they have the best cookies in New York and they did not disappoint just wish I was able to heat it up and enjoy it warm. I munched down a chocolate chip and walnut and a dark chocolate peanut butter.

We headed back to our hotel and enroute stocked up on American candies for my boys. The trip home was very comfortable as we booked premium economy and it was worth every penny.

I’ve been to New York twice now. First time was in December. I found it way too busy and quite intimidating at times. We walked a lot but the underground system is cheap but takes a little time to understand. The lines don’t make much sense especially if you’ve used the London Underground. I’d love to visit in spring when it’s little warmer and enjoy sunny evenings on a roof top bar.

My next trip is Thailand……………..

I love BCN

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I’ve had so much on lately that I’ve not been up to date with my recent travel posts. Soooooo in July 2017 I, my husband, sister and brother in law spent the most perfect weekend in one of my favourite cities. Luckily this is the 2nd time I’ve visited Barcelona I also hosted my hen party there too but most of it was spent either drinking gin, lying on the beach or laughing uncontrollably so I didn’t get to see much of the city.

We travelled on a Friday via Easy Jet. I find the prices are always reasonable especially if you book early. Out flight was slightly delayed but it just gave us extra time to sip on champagne in the departures lounge. Once on board the flight was seamless and immigration was a breeze. We jumped into a taxi to the hotel. Our choice of hotel for the weekend was Hotel Arts. The hotel is situated right on the beach and has the most beautiful views. We had a club class room so we were able to enjoy complimentary drinks, snacks and breakfast.

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viewThe next morning I dragged my husband up to visit the Sagrada Familia. We had pre-booked this as recommended by my trusty guide book. We arrived at 9.30 the sun was already soaring and crowds of tourists gathering. I decied to book the audio tour which was fantastic. We wandered around at our own pace and the audio was so informative and it was great learning all about the structure itself. If you get the chance you must stick the Sagrada on your list. It has such a wow factor.

We google mapped our next destination which is Casa Batllo. The walk was great as we got to take in the sights of the beautiful city. Again Casa Battlo was such a pleasure. We had booked the audio tour and they also have you a handy smart device which when you got to checkpoints it would show images of how the house looked like when Gaudi and his family resided day there. The house had a central staircase and at certain points was very crowded with people going in opposite directions. I’d recommend to get there early to beat the crowds.

After all that sight seeing we were in need of a light lunch and a cold drink. We wandered down the Rambles to the La Boqueria Mercat . So much hustle and bustle under one roof. There was fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and delicious meats on offer. We decided to eat inside and enjoyed some delicious fresh seafood.

After filling our bellies we wandered up the rambles and done a spot a shopping. I was treat to a cute pink Louis Vuitton purse. We found the price to be slightly cheaper than the UK. Afterwards we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a spot of sunshine and couple of glasses of bubbles.

Later than evening we had a table booked at Acces the staff were attentive and the espresso martinis were to die for. Following a recommendation by our waiter we ordered the tasting menu which was so delicious. Sadly no photos of our food as we were having too much fun. The restaurant had a chilled out ambience and it was great to eat, drink and share laughter. Following way too many drinks we returned to the hotel.

The next day we had breakfast and took a walk to the Catedral de Barcelona. Mass was taking place so we sadly couldn’t go in but we did appreciate the exterior architecture. We then took a stroll along the beach and soaked in the Vitamin d. Following a swift check out we got a taxi to Park Guell. We didn’t book a tour as we wanted flexibility in our day. Although I wish we now booked a tour as the park had no clear route and I felt I couldn’t appreciate my surroundings. The sun was blasting at this point so we took refuge to Robata and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Again no photos of our delicious food as I was too hungry. The restaurant itself was clean and the staff were great. We decided to walk a little then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel to enjoy a pre-flight drink.

Our journey hope was hassle free and spent appreciating the weekend we’d just had. Barcelona has it all sunshine, culture, architecture, shopping, great food and pristine beaches. If you’re after a city break it’s a must.

My next trip is the Big Apple!!!

Not all winners hold a trophy

I’ve been fascinated with the world of bodybuilding since 2012. I kept on seeing girls on Instagram and would think wow!!! I’d love to look like that. I took the plunge in 2013 and competed twice and then again in 2014. My prep in 2014 was brutal I weight trained for 90 minutes 6 times a week, completed 30 minutes power walks at midday and on an evening would then pedal for 75 minutes on my spin bike. Come show day I was whacked. Not just physically but mentally too. I’d put so much pressure on myself for this show and felt so disheartened when I didn’t place.  So in 2015 I made the decision not to compete and spend time loving myself again and rebuilding my relationship with food. Bodybuilding is as much a sport of the mind than it is of the body. Some days you’ll love yourself and others you’ll cry as you think you resemble a whale. I also become a binger. Every night after finishing work I’d retreat to our treat cupboard and gorge on chocolate. I was on the verge of an eating disorder. I had to take control before it controlled me.

BNBF July 2013
BNBF July 2013
Miami Pro November 2013
UKBFF June 2014

So here we are in 2017. I’m 16 months post baby and I’ve just started to prep for my 2nd show of the season. My first prep of the season has been a good one. No silly cardio sessions. I lifted heavy weights 5 times a week and at the most I completed 30 minute cardio sessions 4 times a week. The reason I’ve come back to the sport is I love the discipline. I  love seeing the body change. I love the new friendships you make and I love the inner strength you build. Also the biggest reason is I fell out of love with my body. All woman have a negative relationship with their body post baby, its natural but it actually left me depressed. To the point where my effort in dressing nice wasn’t even there. I was hiding in gym leggings and hoodies and catapulting myself into jeans that were way too tight as I couldn’t admit that I needed a bigger size. I didn’t realise how unhappy I was until my husband posted a photo of me on his Instagram in July 2016 and I looked and thought who is she? I felt sad as I realised I no longer loved myself. So I thought enough is enough and I began tracking my food and training hard. Then in October 2016 I contacted my friend Tom. I approached him to coach me. My goal was to enter a power lifting meet and then compete as a bikini competitor in May 2017. We started this journey at at a pleasantly plump 70 kgs. Today I weigh 60 kgs. On show day I was a petite 57 kgs.

July 2016
July 2016

Prepping for a competition is hard and when you throw in having a part time job with responsibility and a husband who works away for 3 weeks at a time leaving me to fly solo looking after our two sons (7 years old and 16 months old). Sometimes yeah it is a juggling act but somehow I manage to juggle all them balls quite well. I prep my food in advance on my days off. Cardio is done either with the baby in his pram or 8 at night when the boys are in bed. Luckily the gym I train at is just around the corner from my office so I get there on my lunch break and my mother in law is an angel and helps me out a lot. At times I get tired and cranky (the baby still co sleeps with me) and want to reach for the chocolate so bad but I just think of the bigger picture and how I feel when I step onto the stage. I need to know I gave it my all. Even though I’m shaking like a leaf I love my time on stage. It gives you such a rush. However the week post show is quite blue. You feel kinda lost and under whelmed. You’ve spent months preparing physically and mental for an event and within hours its over. In the past I’ve post show binged and my weight has ballooned but I’m proud to report I’m no longer a post show binger. Yes I had a week from tracking. My coach advised I mentally needed to take a break.

Sadly I didn’t place at my show. The feedback I was given was to tighten up my lower body and add a little more size on my shoulders.  Thing is walking off that stage knowing I didn’t place didn’t make me feel sad. I was actually floating on cloud 9. The pride I was feeling was unbelievable!!! I did it!!

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PCA May 2017
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That cheek hurting smile

I’m now 12 weeks away from competing again and so psyched. I’ve never started prepping for a show before and actually loving the way I look before cutting. These days I’d say I’m a dress size 9…………….so a size 10 is too big but a size 8 is a hit or miss if it’ll fit. I’m weight training 5 times a week with 2 cardio sessions. I’m in a happy place and excited to see what package I’ll bring to the stage. None of this would be possible without the love and support from my friends and family. My biggest supporter is my husband who encourages me to shine and be a better person. I’m proud that I’ve overcome my demons and  that I love my body again. I’m a winner!

Like I say not all winners hold a trophy!

xxx

 

 

Woah we’re going to Cyprus……..woah back to the Island

Last week we flew out to the beautiful island of Cyprus. Luckily you can fly direct from Newcastle so it was only the 5 hour flight to battle. Ezra was actually a dream, yes he did enjoy getting up and wanting a wander but there was no tantrums or screaming battles. Elijah is always a joy to travel with well when he’s not asking if we’re there yet every 5 minutes. The transfer from Paphos airport to Coral Bay took about 40 minutes.

 

We decided to rent a villa so no check in queues for us. A villa is ideal when travelling with the little ones. Home from home. Villa Sulis  was ideal, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a private pool. Emma who co owns the villa was so helpful and only a text away with any issues we had. Our street was pretty quiet. Location was great as it was only a 5 minute stroll to the local bars and restaurants and another 5 minutes to the well stocked supermarket. They advertise it as a 10 minute walk to the beach but they’ve never had to drag and motivate a lazy 7 year old. Yeah he’s got little legs but I’ve seen a snail with more speed.

 

Food

After our hectic first dinner out we decided to eat at our villa most nights. Ezra’s at the age where he constantly has ants in his pants so eating out with him is not a relaxing affair. The local supermarket had a fishmonger and butcher so we enjoyed steak, salmon, king prawns with fresh salads. I love cooking and I was two weeks post show so it was easier to make heathy choices and not have a blow out.

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We did find a gem of a restaurant on the coast road. It was called Oniro By The Sea. The food was delicious and o m geeee the mango frozen daiquiri was just what I needed so sweet and refreshing. I had the home made Angus steak burger, I enjoyed it so much I inhaled another on our last day. Yep total burger gains. In round 2 of Angela vs Burger I didn’t eat all my wedges so I had room for the mango and passion fruit cheesecake. I’m not usually a cheese cake gal but it was the presentation that made me want to eat it. It did not disappoint and not ashamed to say that I didn’t offer to share it with my children. The vibe at this place was so relaxing and the staff were so hipster and chilled. I’d highly recommend a visit here even if its just for a cocktail and to take in the view.

 

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Family time

We spent our mornings by the pool……………actually we spent our mornings telling Elijah to stop doing cannonballs into the pool and just practice his swimming while Ezra spent his morning throwing everything in sight into the pool. After lunch we’d either pop out to the beach, go for a stroll or a little drive in the car. Late afternoon would be gin o clock then dinner on the terrace. Most nights we’d just lie around and watch movies. Back in the day I’d be on the ouzo until the early hours but hangovers in the heat with children do not mix.

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Kitten watching cuddles

 

 

Fitness

I did make it to a local gym 4 times during our visit. Jeeeez it was hard work training in the heat. The post work out pump though was insane. I was a she hulk. I can confirm that I don’t miss commercial gyms at all. Guys using the tampon cushion while lunging, bitch mitts everywhere, the bloke with the flips flops and the tool wearing sunglasses. Yeah you might be thinking that it was my holiday and I should have rested and enjoyed some time off but training is my therapy. It relaxes me and steps me up for the day.

Fashion

I actually packed light well lightish. This season I’ve been obsessed with Zara. They just nail all the trends and its so affordable too and good quality. My favourite buys are my wrap dress and ribbed jumpsuit. My go to footwear were my Sophia Webster slides. These are last season so no link gusy. We had planned on evening meals on the strip so I did plan lots of other pretty outfits but due to Ezra being a tornado most meals were spent in my trusty shorts and cover up.

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Closing thoughts

We’d definitely make another trip to Coral Bay one day. It such a lovely resort. The coastline is rich with coves and pretty little beaches. The weather was absolutely beautiful but I couldn’t see us visiting in July or August it’d just be way too hot. This place is well suited for families or even couples. Our next planned family trip is Thailand in December. Not like I’m counting down the weeks or anything

Just a couple more snaps to bore you with xxx

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Paphos Zoo
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Too cute not to share
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My big boy is so handsome

 

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Never stops smiling
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Still likes a photo with his Mammy

 

 

 

 

 

Hi there!

After months of contemplating here I am starting my own blog. I’ve been told by a couple of friends now that I should start one up. I don’t really think I’m that interesting but they seem to think so. So what’s my blog about…………….basically being Angela. I’ll be posting about what fashion items I’ve recently bought or my what I have my sights on. How my journey to the stage is going. Have my children turned me grey yet. What foods am I dreaming off. My travels of 2017. I love a good holiday.

I’m sat here pretty nervous as I don’t even know where to begin. Also will people find me interesting and will anyone actually read this. Are blogs like modern age diaries? I had a diary as a child, I cringe at the things I would write in it. How its was nice to be young and carefree. My biggest worry was would I be able to afford the new Morgan skirt I’ve set my eye on. Now I worry about  the baby waking up to the night and poohs that take 20 baby wipes to clean up and how my eldest watched a you tube video then showed me how he learnt how to tea bag??? like wtf. He kept on squatting down and shouting tea bag tea bag. Are you meant to laugh, encourage or discipline in these situations. Was he meaning the tea bag I’m thinking of or is this a new dance move like the dab??! for the record he was watching home made lego movies. I’ll have to ask him tonight what he was referring to. Mornings are way too stressful and manic in my house for those kinds of conversations.