Mad Blog Awards 2014

The MAD Blog Awards are the Mum and Dad Awards, they are the UK's biggest awards for parent blogs.

I am putting myself up for nomination this year *gulp*.

Our Family Life website is something I have been working hard on since last year, so it's fairly new.

I'm a full-time working mum, and along with my husband Mark (who blogs on here too), who's a stay at home dad (has been for 10 years now), and our daughter Amber (who is also getting the blogging bug), and our cheeky monkey of a son Jacob, we talk about all aspects of our family life.

We are the Jennings family

We are the Jennings family

This whole blogging business started almost 5 years ago. I work for a national newspaper, and one day we were asked if anyone wanted to write a blog. I said 'Yes I will', then asked 'What's a blog?'

I write family features/blogs on mirror.co.uk but don't be mistaken, I'm not a writer, I'm a blogger. I write in my own voice as though I'm telling someone a story over a cup of tea! I'm the Art Editor of The Sunday People so I design pages, I don't write the stories. 

As I got used to writing, I enjoyed it more and more. I decided to start our own website.

With the help of my husband, our daughter, and our son, we try and cover most things we get up to. From family days out to product reviews.

This is the first year I have put myself forward for the MAD Blog Awards and it is a little scary as the parenting blogging world is growing every year, and there are some amazing blogs out there. Every one of them done out of love, frustration, happiness, sadness and just because that's the life that's important to them!

This is the life that's important to me - my family!

I would love to be nominated as a newbie in the Best New Blog category. 

If you would like to nominate me click the link below and nominate away. I would really appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!

Adele x

MAD Blog Awards


Saying goodbye...

As I sit here and look at your peaceful sleeping face, I remember all the good times we had.

It's difficult to let myself get deep in thought as it makes me so upset when I do.

Just looking round the room we are in at the moment makes me have a lump in my throat.

We had such good times together.

Your smile as we walked in to your warm, welcoming, loving home every Sunday.

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

You loved having us all around to your house, your 'brood' as you called us.

I just keep staring at you, watching your chest move up and down, not knowing when it will do that for the last time.

Life can be so amazing and beautiful, but it can also be selfish and sad.

I know that we all have to die someday, but it's not a thing we like to talk about.

As I sit here in this chair, looking at you sleeping. I don't know what to expect.

I'm a little afraid, but I don't want you to be alone.

It's only when we face these kind of challenges in life, that we just stop and think for a moment, at what our life is like.

Yes, I like anyone else moan about things, but when it comes down to it, we are born into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing.

You are in the very end stages of Alzheimer's, and this is one horrible disease.

Bit by bit, the person I knew and who knew me so well, started to disappear.

That little bug eating away at your brain, is selfishly taking away the grandma I know and love.

How dare it, what right does it have to do that?

How can something so small, have such a massive effect on not only your life, but the life of your loving family around you.

I lean over the bed to talk to you, stroke your hair, hold your hand, and you are asleep.

As I am a need to know person, I try to read about what happens when we die.

I think I'm trying to make sense of it and trying to understand the process.

It's my birthday today. 

I'm so pleased to be able to spend it with you.

You have always been in my life, and I love everything about you.

Having to do a big swallow because one minute I'm ok, then the next I cry.

I cry at the thought of you not being here, the thought of not seeing your smiling face, the thought of never going back in time and doing the things I loved to do with you and grandad at your house.

I can see your life fading away, you are different today than you were yesterday.

So many things whizz through my mind, things from the past, the happy times, things now, watching you sleeping and wondering how long we have left with you.

To the immediate future and what is going to happen when you've gone.

Then the distant future and what my life will be like for me and my mum.

Will I be the same as you?

Will I get the same illness?

I've always been scared of dying, obviously the fear of the unknown.

Looking at you now, you look comfortable, serene, at peace in a warm bed, with people to care for you and loved ones at your bedside.

It is now my turn to make precious memories for my children.

If they have as good a memories as I had, then I will have done a good job!

I am very lucky to have been able to spend these last days with you, talking to you about times gone by, and all the lovely memories from my childhood made at your house.

Goodbye my beautiful grandma Shaw. 

Time to be back with the love of your life. My grandad is waiting for you.

See you in the morning for a cup of tea and some breakfast.

Rest in peace Sheila Shaw 1932-2013

90 years of the Walt Disney Company

This week the Walt Disney Company celebrates 90 Years.

I love all things Disney and I've been a very big fan for as long as I can remember.

90 years on so much has happened, from the first feature length movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the first theme park, to the creation of Disney Channel, Disney Cruises, and joining in ABC, The Muppets and Star Wars! Let’s not forget all the classic Disney Movies in between – The Lion King, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Tangled, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, the music, the rides, the shows, the stores, the magic!

What a great reason to post some pictures of well-loved Disney characters.

Timeline of the history of Walt Disney Company

October 16, 1923

Walt signed a contract with M. J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice Comedies — this date is considered the start of the Disney company first known as The Disney Brothers Studio.

September 5, 1927

Release of the first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Trolley Troubles.

Steamboat Willie

Steamboat Willie

November 18, 1928

Steamboat Willie is released at the Colony Theatre in New York -- this marks the release of the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon, and the first appearance by Minnie Mouse.

January 13, 1930

Mickey Mouse comic strip debuts.

July 30, 1932

Flowers and Trees, first full-color cartoon and first Academy Award winner, is released.

June 9, 1934

The Wise Little Hen, the first appearance of Donald Duck, is released.

February 23, 1935

The Band Concert, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in color, is released.

Snow White

Snow White

December 21, 1937

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney's first feature-length animated film, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

December 26, 1939

The Disney Studio begins its move to Burbank, California, from the Hyperion Studio in Los Angeles.

April 2, 1940

Walt Disney Productions issues its first stock.

November 13, 1940

Disney releases one of its highly regarded classics, Fantasia.

October 1, 1949

Walt Disney Music Company is formed.

July 19, 1950

Treasure Island, Disney's first completely live-action feature, is released.

February 5, 1953

Peter Pan, based on characters created by Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, is released.

October 27, 1954

Emmy Award-winning Disneyland television show airs on ABC, starring Walt Disney.

July 17, 1955

Disneyland, the first Disney park, opened in Anaheim, California, to an invited audience on this day. The first guests were Kristine Vess and her cousin Michael Schwartner, ages 5 and 7.

October 3, 1955

Mickey Mouse Club debuts on television.

June 23, 1963

Enchanted Tiki Room opens at Disneyland, using the first Audio-Animatronics®.

 

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

August 29, 1964

Mary Poppins, the practically perfect tale directed by Robert Stevenson, about a magical English nanny, is released.

December 15, 1966

Walt Disney, the visionary whose pioneering spirit and inimitable creativity made the impossible possible, turning dreams into reality and building the foundation of The Walt Disney Company of today, dies at age 65.

December 25, 1969

The arena show Disney on Parade, in which costumed Disney characters put on lavish dance numbers, debuts in Chicago.

October 1, 1971

Walt Disney World Resort opens with the Magic Kingdom and two hotels near Orlando, Florida.

December 20, 1971

Roy O. Disney, who, with younger brother Walt Disney, co-founded the company that is now known as The Walt Disney Company, passes away.

March 22, 1975

Walt Disney World Village, a large outdoor mall with specialty shops all built by Disney designers, which later became Disney Village Marketplace, opens.

December 3, 1980

Tokyo Disneyland groundbreaking and site dedication takes place in Urayasu, just outside of Tokyo.

October 1, 1982

EPCOT Center, a major undertaking for Disney, costing in the neighborhood of $1 billion, opens at Walt Disney World Resort.

April 15, 1983

Tokyo Disneyland, the first international Disney theme park, opens in Japan.

April 18, 1983

The Disney Channel begins broadcasting with 18 hours of programming a day.

May 25, 1983

Fantasyland, one of the original lands of Disneyland, receives a complete remodel and opens to the public.

September 23, 1984

Michael Eisner and Frank Wells become chairman/CEO and president of Walt Disney Productions.

March 24, 1987

The agreement to build Euro Disneyland, later renamed Disneyland Paris, was signed in France.

March 28, 1987

The first Disney Store opens, in Glendale, California.

May 5, 1987

First Disney Dollars sold at Disneyland.

May 1, 1989

Disney-MGM Studios, later renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Pleasure Island open at Walt Disney World Resort.

May 6, 1991

The Walt Disney Company joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

September 26, 1991

Hyperion Books, a Disney publishing company, releases its first book, Amazing Grace.

April 12, 1992

Euro Disneyland, the first Disney theme park in Europe, which was later renamed Disneyland Paris, opens.

April 18, 1994

Beauty and the Beast, the first Disney Broadway show, opens in New York.

June 15, 1994

The Lion King opens to a limited audience in Los Angeles and New York and nationwide on June 24, 1994.

December 5, 1994

Disney Interactive, a division first intended to develop, market, and distribute cartridge games and CD-ROM software, is formed.

May 22, 1995

Disney agrees to purchase 25 percent of the California Angels baseball team from Gene Autry.

July 31, 1995

Disney agrees to purchase Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion.

September 1, 1995

Disney Online, a division of Disney Interactive created to develop The Walt Disney Company's online presence, is formed.

October 1, 1995

The Disney Channel begins operation in the UK.

January 4, 1996

Shareholders approve the Disney merger with Capital Cities/ABC.

February 9, 1996

Final FCC approval and filing of merger documents completes the Capital Cities/ABC acquisition.

February 22, 1996

Disney Online launches Disney.com.

July 17, 1996

Disney announces plans for Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim.

November 18, 1996

Radio Disney, a live 24-hour music-intensive radio network, debuts.

March 28, 1997

Disney’s Wide World of Sports, a professional-caliber sports complex at Walt Disney Word Resort that was later renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports, opened to the public.

November 13, 1997

The Lion King stage production opens on Broadway.

March 23, 1998

ESPN Magazine debuts.

April 22, 1998

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World Resort.

July 30, 1998

Disney Magic cruise ship departs on its inaugural cruise.

March 31, 1999

Disney completes the purchase of the Anaheim Angels.

August 15, 1999

Disney Wonder sets sail on its maiden voyage.

September 29, 1999

Euro Disney announces plans to build Walt Disney Studios theme park in France.

February 8, 2001

Disney California Adventure park opens at the Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim, California.

September 4, 2001

Tokyo DisneySea opens at Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan.

October 24, 2001

Disney acquires Fox Family Channel and renames it ABC Family.

November 1, 2001

Disney acquires Baby Einstein, a company that creates products that bring the arts and humanities to babies.

December 5, 2001

100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth.

March 16, 2002

Walt Disney Studios theme park opens in France next-door to Disneyland Paris.

May 22, 2003

Disney sells the Anaheim Angels.

May 15, 2004

Disney acquires the Muppets properties and Bear in the Big Blue House.

June 15, 2005

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts launches Adventures by Disney.

September 12, 2005

Hong Kong Disneyland opens.

October 1, 2005

Robert A. Iger becomes president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.

October 12, 2005

Disney is first to license TV episodes, from ABC and Disney Channel series, for download on Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

February 9, 2006

Disney re-acquires Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Universal.

March 14, 2006

High School Musical becomes the first full-length movie to be sold via digital download, on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, followed by theatrical features in September.

May 2, 2006

During its 50th anniversary celebration, Disneyland welcomes the honorary two-billionth guest to visit a Disney theme park.

May 5, 2006

Disney acquires Pixar Animation Studios.

September 12, 2006

Disney feature films are made available on iTunes.

August 1, 2007

Disney acquires Club Penguin, a virtual world for kids.

February 13, 2009

Disney XD, a new cable network, launches.

March 10, 2009

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club launches.

April 22, 2009

Disneynature label launches with the release of Earth.

December 31, 2009

Marvel Entertainment joins the Disney family.

January 26, 2011

The Disney Dream makes its maiden voyage.

April 7, 2011

The Walt Disney Company officially breaks ground on Shanghai Disney Resort.

August 29, 2011

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, opens to guests.

March 23, 2012

Disney Junior, a 24-hour stand-alone television network, launches in the U.S.

March 31, 2012

The Disney Fantasy makes its maiden voyage.

December 21, 2012

The Walt Disney Company completes its acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC – the global entertainment company founded by George Lucas and the home of the legendary Star Wars franchise.

For more than nine decades, the name Walt Disney has been preeminent in the field of family entertainment. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to today's global corporation, The Walt Disney Company continues to proudly provide quality entertainment for every member of the family, across America and around the world. To learn more about the history of The Walt Disney Company, click through the timeline below.

When Adele met Fabrizio Petrossi, one of the Disney illustrators

90 years of the Walt Disney Company

First time away from home: How we coped when our daughter went to Brownie camp

As parents, we are constantly faced with new challenges, and we try our best with each one.

Last weekend our daughter Amber, 9, went to Brownie camp for four days, yes FOUR days! Without us, no mobiles allowed (not that she has one anyway), but we couldn't just pick up the phone and speak to her.

Even though she only travelled 10 minutes down the road, it was the first time she had stayed away from home for longer than one night.

Months before we decided if she could go, I spoke to my mum and picked her brains about my feelings, which initially were, I didn't want her to go.

I had so many questions from who would be there, where would they sleep, how would she wash her hair, what would she eat, yes I know, I know, I can feel the eye-rolling of people who think I'm too over protective.

Amber on her way to Brownie camp

Amber on her way to Brownie camp

My mum talked about her experience when I went away for the first time. I was a majorette and we had a yearly competition, which was held at a seaside location for a whole week, some one and a half hours away from my parents house.

Of course my mum worried if I would be ok, but she knew I would be safe as I stayed with my friends' parents in a seaside hotel.

All I can remember at that time was having fun and being nervous about the competition. Anyone who knows me, knows I took my competing very seriously as this was the major event of the year, and I wanted to win. I didn't have time to worry about not being with my mum and dad. My mum used to drive over for the day which broke the week up.

Adele (left) and Kim in the majorettes

Adele (left) and Kim in the majorettes

I also remember my case with all my clothes in. My mum is a lover of making lists (which is where I get it from). On the inside of my case, in the lid, I had a big piece of paper with a list, days of the week, what clothes to wear, including socks! My mum made sure I had everything, which of course made it easier.

Amber has been to a sleep over just for one night, a couple of times, and she has stayed at her Nanny's house on the odd occasion, when my husband and I went on honeymoon, my mum stayed at our house, but these occasions are rare.

Maybe it's because I worry too much, or maybe it's just because I feel that I chose to have my children, my husband and I are responsible for them and I don't want to drop them onto someone else.

I do understand that parents have got their own life too but mine is for my children, husband, family and work. Maybe it's because I am a full-time working mum and don't see my children all day everyday that I find it harder to let them stay overnight anywhere else.

I think our daughter, Amber, was over 3 years old when she first slept at her Nanny's house. Our son Jacob, who's 2, has never slept anywhere other than in our house and my parents, both places with us.

It's very daunting doing anything for the first time as a parent and it's a learning curve for not only your child but for you too. Everything from feeding, teething, crawling, walking, talking, you name it, it's a constant worry that things are going to be ok. My mum tells me that never stops no matter how old your children get. She worries about me and my brother the same as she did when we were younger, but she lets us lead our own life and is always there when we need her and my dad.

When you are young you think your parents have the answer to everything and they know it all. It's only when you become an adult yourself (even though I don't feel like one), you get by and learn as you go.

I worked on 2 of the days when she was on holiday, but I clock watched all the time and my mind would wander and think about what she would be doing. My husband, Mark, missed his pizza and film buddy on Saturday night (I work late every Saturday, so they enjoy watching a film together). I text him to see if he was ok in the evening and he said he was bored without her. The 2 days I was at home without her there felt very strange. At night when she wasn't in her bed I wondered if she was sleeping well where she was.

Amber had a great time at her Brownie holiday, and she seems to have grow up in the four days she was away. She did say she missed us.

She did make me laugh when we picked her up. She said, she enjoyed it but didn't want to go again because she had to do jobs! Hilarious! They were earning badges and had to do some cooking and cleaning. At 9 years old that's a big deal!

Phew! Another parent hurdle jumped, now bring on the next parenting challenge, oh yes, that's probably potty training our son, wish us luck!

Tried & Tested: The energy efficient washing machine from Panasonic available at Appliances Online

Working mum of two Adele Jennings and her husband, stay at home dad Mark put the Panasonic NA-148VX3WGB washing machine to the test.

We all know that we never have enough time to complete all the daily tasks that life throws at us. So it's great when you get a helping hand from modern technology.

My husband Mark and I have 2 children, Amber is 9 and Jacob is 2, and together we get through mountains of washing each week.

Like any other family we care about the environment while trying to save our pennies.

We have been sent the Panasonic NA-148VX3WGB washing machine by Appliances Online to review.

The very user friendly Panasonic NA-148VX3WGB washing machine

The very user friendly Panasonic NA-148VX3WGB washing machine

The stylish Panasonic NA-148VX3WGB is a perfect example of a simple to use A+++ 'Energy Efficient' washing machine for the average busy family, and because high-efficiency machines have more customisable settings it's by far simpler for parents to find one that's right for a specific load, providing a better, more intelligent wash cycle.

Panasonic's new machine's very modern looking, with it's large tinted door that houses an ample 8 kg drum which is perfect for bedding and larger items without splitting the loads. A contemporary LCD display may deter the technophobe, but it's really not that complicated, with a straight forward function menu that shows the programme you're using, the speed & temperature and the time left on the cycle.

Once you've loaded the machine, chosen your preferred cycle, added the detergent/softener and started the wash, the clever ' Perfect Sense Technology' assesses the wash load to precisely detect the amount of clothes to reduce waste of water and get the best washing results. If you have a small baby vest and a large towel, it cleverly distributes the drum so everything gets a thorough wash.

With the '3D Sensor Wash' it analyses the motion of the drum, detecting the movement of the laundry in the machine and making adjustments to enable the laundry to tumble from the optimal position. Combining this with the 'HydroActive+' technology consisting in 5 point multi-directional showers which quickly penetrate items and guarantee efficient washing and rinsing everytime.  

panel.jpg

The Eco/Speed mode see's the machine consuming 50% less energy and up to 30% less water, which may take a little longer, so it's an absolutely ideal if you're going out as the machine also switches itself off once the programme has completed.

With temperature options from from cold to 90 °C and it's water jets coming from 5 different directions, we found this versatile machine washes clothes especially thoroughly and is a very quiet at 53db's on a wash cycle and 72db's on a spin cycle as well as remaining very stable throughout, with possible spin speeds up to 1,400 rpm. So you don't have to worry about the washing machine waking up the kids when you put a wash on in the evening.

Safety features include an 'auto-lock' door whilst in use and you can activate this whilst idle by pressing and holding the option button to prevent curious little one's climbing into the drum! Additionally you can lock the display controls so your little helpers busy fingers don't fiddle around and change all the programme settings.

One of the functions that I love most about this machine is probably the most simplistic but satisfying. The pause function lets you add an item after the cycle has started, how many times have you looked around and found an stray sock on the middle of the kitchen floor - it could possibly solve the infamous odd sock mystery!

Check out my video review below and watch my son Jacob helping me out with the washing.

Priced at £467, available from www.appliancesonline.co.uk