17 February 2017

The Little ones make a splash

If there is one thing all the Little Ones like it is putting on their wellies and stomping in puddles. I don't know what is it about puddles and making splash but the Little Ones think it is great when they are given permission to jump up and down and get totally soaked. When we heard there was going to be a Puddle Jumping Championship at the Wildfowl and Wetlands centre near us during half term I knew it was something the children would enjoy and I wasn't wrong.

Being members we just turned up in the middle of the afternoon and headed to 'Welly Boot Land' a play area with a running stream, a few water activities, roundabout, slide and climbing frame. The Little Ones love this area, great for wellies in the winter and in the summer we take a swim suit and a picnic and spend quite a few hours in there.

They had set up some tuff spot 'puddles' for the Puddle Jumping Championships and were scoring the children on their jumping style and the size of the splash, unfortunately despite being advertised as 2-3pm it was over when we arrived at 2.35 and the judges were deciding the winners so the girls didn't get the chance to take part in the competition but after promising them we would come again in the week they were happy just to try out the puddles anyway and have a play in the stream.

Little 3 is just beginning to master the art of jumping and can do a sort of hop where he can get his feet a centimetre or so off the ground, it looks quite cute and he says 'jump jump' while he is doing it. Little 3 has been watching his sisters jumping in puddles for a while now and is getting the hang of stamping up and down in them himself now in his cute little wellies. He loved having a good splash about in the makeshift puddles.

Little 2 wasn't overly interested in the puddles themselves preferring to have a jolly good splash in the stream and explore the water. She enjoyed jumping trying to get her face wet, moving water wheels and creating a dam.

Little 1 spent a great deal of time showing her little brother the fountain and guiding him through the stream, they have a really close relationship and it was lovely to watch them both exploring together.

We had great fun playing in the water but it was a really cold dark February day and only 1 degree outside. We had been playing around 40 minutes and I know that despite wellies, rainsuits and winter coats that the children were starting to get soggy and I didn't want them to get cold so we headed indoors to do some colouring and play with the games and activities on offer in there while we warmed up. 

After some time indoors we all went out again and had a short stroll along the boardwalk admiring the birds and visiting the flamingos before heading home for a nice hot bath.

12 February 2017

Little 2 has a 5th Birthday.

I am a bit late in writing this post as Little 2's birthday was last week but in my defence I have had some horrible flu type bug followed by a sinus infection and I haven't blogged much this week at all! 

So my Little 2 has turned 5 years old, the day started with her having a lie in while her sister and brother were up and waiting for her to come down, in the end I had to go and wake her, she has been rather tired in the run up to half term. It was a weekend and so she didn't have to go to school, there was plenty of time for her to open her gifts and she was really happy with what she received.

When I had asked her what she wanted to do for the day she really really wanted to go out and ride her bike. Little 1 has recently got a bigger bike and now Little 2 has her previous one, she is just about tall enough for it and is practicing really hard without stabilisers but she just needs to grow another inch or two to be able to kick off and reach the extent of the pedals so at the moment she needs a little help. She is desperate to be able to ride and really wanted to go out again and practice. She was really content with riding around the grassed area opposite our house and going around the block with daddy holding on the the back as it was a bit too wet to go much further.

Granny, Grampy and cousins all came in the afternoon for cake and to play for a while which all got rather loud and excitable but all the children seemed to be having a lot of fun! Then Nanny and Uncle M came later followed by a takeaway at Little 2's request. A family day at home but one happy birthday girl.

For her birthday Little 2 had wanted a birthday party with her friends from school, she asked to go to a local pottery painting place that we had visited last year who did a party package. We had her party the week before and I have to say that this was the quietest children's party that I had ever been to. 10 children sat around a table painting their chosen pottery animal and barely a word was spoken for a whole 40 minutes between them. The parents seemed to be having a great time helping their children and everyone sat so nicely completely engrossed in what they were doing.

A lunch box, a balloon and some bags to colour in (which were used to put each child's fired piece of pottery in for me to bring home and distribute the following week) kept everyone happy and occupied, it really was a lovely party. Little 1 painted a rabbit and Little 2 chose a cat, they look lovely on our mantlepiece.

At 5 years old Little 2 likes:
Creating, colouring and writing
Riding her bike
Nail varnish and lip gloss
and she still loves Spaghetti Bolognaise.

11 February 2017

Fancy some free samples?

We live in a world where everyone wants more. We work to get a bigger house, a better car, and a wide variety of "stuff" for our homes. Lately "freebies" have become increasingly popular; people are always on the lookout for ways to score free or heavily discounted items. It makes sense to try and score these deals, because you can save a lot of money. But, which websites should you be looking at? The five best are listed below.

1. WOWFreeStuff
wowfreestuff.co.uk is a sample site. You can get small sized, free items in a variety of categories. For example, you may be able to get makeup samples or food samples. It is a great way to find a new favorite product without having to spend a lot of money.

2. Craigslist
You've probably heard about Craigslist over the years. It is important to note that you do not know who you are corresponding with on the site. You must use good judgement when communicating with others. However, that said, you can find a lot of free items on Craigslist. There is a movement called freecycling that is gaining popularity around the world. With freecycling, people that have items that they are no longer using give them away to others rather than contributing to landfill. With a little patience, you can score some incredible deals on Craigslist.

3. Gumtree
On Gumtree, people can put up pictures of anything they no longer want. Users can browse to find items they are interested in.

4. Woman Freebies
As the name implies, this site has a lot of freebies that are marketed toward women. There are coupons, samples and even giveaways. You'll find a wide variety of products, and you can lose track of time as you search for things that you are interested in. Also, if you are looking for an inexpensive gift, this is the place to get it.

5. Extremecouponing.co.uk
There are people out there that are very serious about couponing, and as a result, they save a lot of money each year. There are many different coupon websites out there, but Coupons.com is still one of the leaders. There are tons of coupons that you can print, and you can also find discounts and coupon codes.

As you get started with these websites, it is important to note that you will have to spend some time looking for treasures. There is certainly a lot of things that you will likely have no interest in at all. However, if you are patient, you can find items that you need or want. There is even furniture and appliances available from time to time!

Inventory moves quickly, especially on items that are in relatively good shape or that are considered valuable. Go back to the sites often to search. If you need something in particular, you can put up an ad mentioning what that item is. Someone may email you and then you will be all set.

There are so many ways to save money out there. Get to know the sites, take advantage of the deals, and save some money!

N.B This was a sponsored post.

6 February 2017

Time for a change?

This Christmas just gone I realised that I have been 'A Stay at Home Mum' for 5 years having last worked just before Little 2 was born. A lot has changed in that time, both girls have grown, been to pre-school and started school and Little 3 came along and is now almost 2 years old himself.

I like being a SAHM, I get to take the girls to school and pick them up each day, I can go to all the assemblies and Christmas performances without needing to ask for time off. If anyone is poorly it doesn't matter as I am home for as long as they need to recover. I have been with Little 2 right from from birth until she started school and Little 3 from birth until now. I have been lucky enough to have seen everything they have done, all those first milestones, and while Daddy has had to work, I have got to spend time with our children and enjoy them, play with them and teach them, practically everything they have learnt has come from home and that makes me feel like I have done a pretty good job at being Mum.

Spending time with Little 3 is fun!

I don't find not going to work and staying at home with the children boring or monotonous. I like playing with my children and spending time with them, Little 3 helps me do the housework and keeps me company while the girls are at school, we sometimes go out places for lunch or into town and we go to Tumble Tots together as well as run errands and buy groceries.

I am very much working at home and not sitting down all day happens everyday, I generally only sit down while Little 3 has his 45 min nap and that is usually when I write my blog so even then I am still working. Daddy leaves at 7.30 for work and gets in sometime after half 5 generally, in between then I get three children up, fed, and to school, go shopping (on foot as Daddy has the car), do laundry and housework, entertain and play with Little 3, pick the girls up, attempt homework and cook tea which we are usually halfway through when Daddy walks in. Who ever said being a Stay at home mum was easy!

Time for homework.

The last few months with the children getting older and Little 2 settled at school I have been thinking a little about me, Sarah, and wondering where I have gone. I am a mum to three lovely Little Ones and I wouldn't have it any other way and I like staying at home but there has been a big shift since Little 2 started school and I have begun to think about going back to work, I am feeling a little lost.

I miss having Little 2 around.

It first became apparent a little before Christmas when the Little Ones had a whole term of illness, one after the other, the girls both needing to have quite a bit of time off school. I think there was only one week that term where both of them did a whole week. Having been a parent for over 7 years now I have dealt with the children having all manner of bugs, viruses and sickness in that time and although I do not like my children being ill I can deal with it just fine and do what needs to be done to help them recover. With so much illness in those weeks, and the calendar literally full of who had had what painkiller when and a chart with who needed which antibiotics at what time as well as the doctors appointments and the school runs as well I began to feel quite anxious like I couldn't cope but I was coping just fine.

It seemed to make me really anxious for a month or two, I was lying awake in bed at night waiting for the children to wake up ill again or needing their next doses of calpol, I would put them to bed at night and wonder how much sleep I was or wasn't going to get that night and I began to think, this isn't right what is happening.

I think all that to think about along with the run up to Christmas, the Christmas Plays the girls were practicing, and the parties and all the things we had planned over the festive period simply just gave me too much to think about and I found it all a bit too much. Once Christmas was over and we had got back to our routine with the girls at school I felt better but then I began to think whether staying at home much longer was really the right thing to do anymore.

I began to think about going back to work! I don't particularly want to go back to work yet, Little 3 is still not even 2 years old and will have to go into childcare which I am not keen on however I think I need a change of scene and to have a few hours break from being Mummy, it would only be part-time until he is older and I think it would do me good.

I have a whole load of qualifications and a degree under my belt from before, I worked in nurseries and as a nanny for years while I was studying too but that isn't what I want to do as a career. I have been thinking of training to become a Teaching Assistant for the past few years and after all this thinking I have got into gear and signed myself up on a training course to start in September, I just need to get myself employed in a school from then as part of the training.... So watch this space!

29 January 2017

Slugs, snails and puppy dog tails

Little 3 is now 22 months old, since the girls went back to school in the New Year he has changed a great deal, not only has he suddenly got a bit taller but he has had another language and developmental jump and he seems to be edging towards being a little boy and not so much of a toddler anymore.

He has always been bright, all the Little Ones are clever, but I think it also comes from having older sisters and a Mummy at home with a degree in child development and who never stops talking to him!

His language has been fab right from the off and he uses a couple of hundred words regularly although he can't quite say his h's and v's yet. He is able to communicate telling us what he wants whether it is food or a particular toy and recently has just started to string 3 words together to form some sort of command or basic sentence which has been really quite lovely.

For example, on a Saturday morning when it is just him and I up while everyone else has a lie in, he is allowed his breakfast at the little toddler table in front of the television (we normally all sit at the dining table on a week day) and I normally nurse a cup of coffee sat next to him on the sofa, the other week he sat at the table and said 'Mummy, sit chair breakfast' pointing to the chair clearly indicating to me that he wanted me to sit with him and so I wedged my bottom on the tiny chair and did as I was asked, the smile that lit up his face said it all and now I no longer sit on the sofa and I have my breakfast with him down there too.

It is great to see him interacting with his sisters as well. Now that he can tell us what he wants, he can join in the girls games and get them to do what he wants too. He was building his duplo train and showed Little 1 who was standing near him, she praised him and said 'Well done' to which he furrowed his little brow and said ' No, play trains' as he had wanted her to play rather than just look and so she stopped and played with him for a while. 

Little 3 is in some ways really quite different to the girls and I am not sure if it is because he is a boy or just because he is him. The girls would happily do puzzles and sit for ages drawing, they would spend a long time setting things up and playing with them but Little 3 is a bit different. He doesn't have much time for puzzles or the shape sorter and generally ends up throwing the bits around after a few minutes and drawing on the table or his hand rather than the paper but then he will sit for ages playing with the Postman Pat toys he has got out or the train track we have set out with him. He spends a lot of time in the play kitchen making tea or cups of coffee and will also chat to himself while he puts his play figures to bed in the little house both of which the girls did too.

But that is where the similarities end and his boyishness really comes in, Little 3 likes to play with balls and yo-yos A LOT, he likes to throw things, something the girls never did, and although this is usually accompanied by the word 'catch' as a ball sails past your ear. He just seems to have a slightly more physical streak than the girls did. Spinning round in circles with a yo-yo on the end of a string swinging around is another favourite activity and as I try to avoid getting hit on the kneecap while I ask him to give it to me, I have realised he is just a little more active than the girls were.

There isn't a mean or naughty bone in his body, Little 3 is a total charmer and everyone loves him, he is so cheeky and he knows it. He has such a mischievous grin and a cute smile and makes me laugh constantly. I have begun to think whether it is time he went to playgroup or something so he can have some fun with other children his age, get messy and run off some energy??

25 January 2017

Counting in sleeps, the only measurement of time!

Now everyone knows that if you are a child the way to measure time is by the number of sleeps, it may be tomorrow or the day after that but for the Little Ones all they want to know is 'How many sleeps until... Mummy?

I am not sure at what point counting the days or looking on a calendar begins to kick in but for the girls counting in sleeps is the only acceptable unit of time and woe betide me if I attempt to tell them any other.

At this point in time Little 2 is counting in sleeps for three separate things and every evening before bed and every morning I have to work out how many sleeps it is until the awaited events. She is currently counting sleeps until her birthday party (2 sleeps), her actual birthday (10 sleeps) and the day she will be able to attend her first Rainbows meeting after she has turned 5 (15 sleeps), as the numbers get lower she is getting more excited and I have been tempted to add on a sleep or two!!

I am not sure if it is a way to get the sleeps down faster or just the thought process in her head but Little 1 doesn't include the sleep she is about to have in her sleeps count. For example if something was three days and therefore three sleeps away she would say it was two sleeps away that night at bedtime because when she wakes up it will be two sleeps and isn't including the sleep she is about to have (confusing eh!). 

I understand her logic but it didn't half cause a problem at Christmas when she had convinced her younger sister that there was one sleep until Christmas (meaning one sleep after the one she was about to have) and Little 2 who counts sleeps in the normal way was then convinced Father Christmas was going to visit that night and we really had to explain that it was only going to be Christmas Eve, she went from super excited to really upset and grumpy, it wasn't the best bedtime!

The trouble is, it isn't just the number of sleeps for things that are nearly upon us that they want to know, Little 1 has already asked how many sleeps until our summer holiday, her birthday in October and Christmas. To which I generally reply 'oh there are too many to count', if something is more than a couple of weeks away I tell them in months or weeks before the counting in days begins. 

Do your children count in sleeps?

24 January 2017

5 easy, affordable ways to entertain the children this winter

It goes without saying that being cooped up inside during the winter can be boring, and keeping the Little Ones entertained without breaking the bank can sometimes be difficult. The nights get darker quicker, the air is cold, and when the weather is bad we will be stuck indoors looking for ways to amuse the Little Ones before they start squabbling again.

Winter causes the outdoors to be a lot less accommodating than it usually is, and can cause you to spend a fortune to go somewhere on a day out. However, there are ways that you can bring about some seasonal variations that will save on your budget and put a much more positive spin on what can be miserable months in winter. You can truly have more family fun, without having to spend a great deal of money doing so.

So why not try these 5 great tips when you want to have some affordable fun with your children this winter:

1. Think About A Conker Collection Competition

The Little Ones love conkers, and so do I. I remember cooking and pickling them and having conker fights at school. You could be surprised at just how much your children will love them and how much joy they can bring. Think about all of the delight that comes with breaking open the spiky, brown shell to show a shiny conker that is hidden on the inside. Whether you are simply collecting or you take it a step further to tie them up with string to play a fun game of conkers, this is a nice way to bring a bit of warmth and bonding to an otherwise cold day of winter.

2. Entertainment At The Museum

When you are feeling a bit claustrophobic with indoor activities, you can think about a change of scenery without having to make it extravagant. Take a trip to your local museum to see about their free offerings and take it from there. The admission will usually be free for children under a certain age, or they will get in at a dramatically reduced rate. Get on the bus, bring along a lunch to keep the costs low, and you will be there enjoying yourself in no time, also if you join freebie sites like FreeStuff Baby, they do post some good family day out freebies.

3. Teach Traditional Games

Put away the tablets, phones and other technology for a while so that children have a chance to understand that technology is not a babysitter or a lifeline. You can make winter a success by teaching children that there are plenty of wonderful family games that can be played, much like they did when the latest technology didn't exist.

Look for some of your old favorite games to play as a family, or even think about starting a new tradition with some different games that you haven't tried before. Even though there may be some initial whining when the gadgets are taken away, they will quickly forget once they start having fun and realizing that there are other things that can be done.

4. Make DIY Playdough

Think about the last time that your children had a chance to create and have fun with playdough (daily in our house). Instead of just buying some at the shop, try and make some DIY playdough that the children will love, they will enjoy getting their hands sticky and making their own. All it takes it bringing together some simple ingredients and you will be in for hours of fun, even when the temperatures dip down outside. This is a cheap way to have fun and bond with your Little Ones as well!

5. Bundle Up And Have A Bonfire

Even though you may only have time for bonfire night once a year, there is nothing saying that you cannot break the rules every once in a while. No matter how cold it gets outside, you can build a great bonfire outside, roast some marshmallows and enjoy each other's company for an inexpensive experience. Mmm, hot chocolate anyone?

N.B This was a collaborative post.

21 January 2017

Playdough- one of your 5 a day, right?

''Paydoughs' Mummy, Pease'' I hear coming from over by the craft cupboard, a look of longing on Little 3's cheeky face as he tugs on the hairband I have wrapped around the handles to prevent him getting all the paint out. There are very few days that go by where he does not ask to play with the colourful squishy stuff, I find it hard to resist that little grin and he knows it.

After selecting his colours and the box of tools he will take it over to the table and ask to sit in the highchair. It is quite a therapeutic thing playing with playdough when you are a grown up and I actually really enjoy it!

We make all manner of things together but often lots and lots of little balls, you see Little 3 has a thing about rolling and throwing at the moment and loves making the little balls of playdough roll around the table and generally litter the carpet with for me to clear up!

Little 3 is fully in discovering and investigating mode at the moment, he will sit for ages trying to put the lid on the playdough tub or looking at the shape cutters and cutting out shapes. He can name quite a few now.

We have picnic parties together, where we make playdough biscuits and plates of food. Little 3 is using a little knife and fork at meals now instead of a spoon and loves to 'chop', he spends a great deal of time trying to chop his playdough and practice cutting.

But like many things with a 22 month old, the playdough always ends up in his mouth, sometimes we will play for nearly an hour and others just 5 minutes before the stuff gets closer to those cheeky chops. 

He gets a warning and I tell him 'No' but still he looks at me with that sneaky look and tries a nibble, I tell him if he does it again we will put it away and then we do because inevitably he has put it in his mouth again. But playdough, it is one of your five a day right?