8 December 2016

It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

I have to be honest and say I have been a little slow in feeling festive this year, I know there are still over two weeks to go but I am usually humming Christmas tunes constantly by now!

We have had 6 weeks of illness in our house, the children seem to be picking up one thing after another resulting in numerous broken nights, temperatures, trips to the doctors, antibiotics, and a few days off school too. As I write Little 2 is sat next to me off school with a fever and Little 3 is napping, but he is hot and plastered in spots! Everyone is pretty tired and grumpy too including me and I wasn't feeling at all festive.

After visiting a local Enchanted Christmas event at the end of November I began to feel a little bit festive and decided I need to stop worrying that everyone keeps getting ill and bring on the festivities.

In the last few days I have written my Christmas cards and the girls have written theirs and handed them out at school, they have also posted off their letters to Santa and are hoping for a reply soon. The Little Ones are going over to Nanny's for a few hours at the weekend so that Daddy and I can had a massive present wrapping session while they were out, and then that will be the vast majority of that done too, just a few last gifts to find for one or two people now.


The little Ones have dug out their Christmas themed clothes and been wearing them lots, we had a mini Christmas photoshoot too which was a bit of fun and literally lasted two minutes before Little 3 had had enough! I don't think we did too bad for photos although we didn't get one of all three looking and smiling at the same time! 


This past week has seen Little 2's school Nativity play, A Christingle at church with Little 1's Rainbows group and their Christmas party, and Daddy's work Christmas do too.

Little 2's play was lovely, all the little reception children doing so well and singing beautifully. Little 2 was a star in the play and had lots of glitter in her hair and a glittery skirt she kept telling us about, she was so excited and had a big smile on her face throughout the performance. I would love to show you some pictures I took or a little video of her singing but there are lots of her classmates in the shots as she was at the front so I can't, but believe me it was lovely.

The same evening we went over to the local church for a Christingle service for the Rainbows, Brownies, Cub and Scout groups, the church was full and the children took part in the service doing readings and explaining about Christmas. We sang carols and got to have our own candle to hold too. I enjoyed joining in with the carols and at the end all the children sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas', it was a great start to the festive spirit for me hearing the children sing and I did feel a lot more Christmassy afterwards.

We tend to leave it until the second weekend in December to put up our Christmas tree and decorations with the help of the children, as it is Nanny's birthday in early December and we celebrate that first plus with two cats and a toddler undecorating the tree daily, that is early enough for us. We are planning on doing it tomorrow after school with all the Little Ones. I am looking forward to the house feeling warm and cosy with the coloured lights and strings of festive bunting.

Last years tree!

This coming week sees Little 1's school Christingle at the local church and several fun things at school, I can feel that the end of a busy school term is around the corner now too. We have plans to take the girls ice skating at the pop up rink in town and a few other little surprises in store for them during the holidays. 

I am definitely beginning to feel more festive now. 

4 December 2016

A little boy and his love of trains

Over the past few weeks it has become clear that Little 3 has developed a love of trains or 'choo choots' as he calls them. We used to get the train track out to play with here and there a few times a week, we would build a track, play for a bit, whooshing the trains over the bridge and then put it away again after he had long abandoned it for something else.

But this past 2 weeks he has barely played with anything else. The train track has sat out on the carpet and hasn't moved for over a week, he just keeps going back to it. He will take me by the hand and say 'help, Mummy' as he pulls me over to the spot on the carpet and passes me a piece of track. Together we build/repair the track complete with a bridge and begin to play.


He likes to make choo choo noises as he pushes the trains around the track, ever so carefully so they do not come off. As he nears the bridge he grins and gives the train a little push watching as it speeds and then slows down. If one does happen to fall off the track he cries 'oh no' and carefully puts it back on again.


It amazes me that at only 20 months old he is so caring and careful of his trains and track, there are not many toddlers who wouldn't destroy a track after a few minutes play, but with Little 3 the track remains out almost completely unharmed to return to later. I haven't had the heart to tidy it up at all this week, he just keeps going back to it, we change the track and play some more and in a way it is quite therapeutic.


I have watched him discover the wonder of magnets as he tries to put the trains together looking bemused as they repel and then a little smile of approval as he works it out. A little line of trains on the track, that is my boy right now.


It has probably stemmed from an introduction to Thomas and Friends which we recently began recording for him to watch, he loves it and asks to watch an episode daily. My personal favourite train character is Percy, his round friendly face and my favourite colour green. Little 3 likes Thomas, he probably recognises him as that is the only train we have from the show at the moment.


When we have been out Christmas shopping Little 3 usually sits quietly in his pushchair taking in his surroundings and watching the world go by but if he spots a train or Thomas memorabilia his face lights up and he shouts 'Choo choots Mummy, choo choots', I love it. 


No trouble knowing what to get him for Christmas this year then!

3 December 2016

BIC children's colouring gifts and stocking fillers this Christmas

Right now colouring and drawing is something the girls do a lot. Little 1 is always drawing, writing and making cards or pictures for people and Little 2 is constantly bringing pictures home from school to colour in. Rarely a day goes by where the crayons, pens and pencils have not been out, if the girls haven't used them then Little 3 and I have done some drawing or something while they have been at school. 

We were at that stage where a lot of our pens had started to run out and the pencils were getting short and I was stringing the girls out until Christmas as felt tips, crayons and pencils do make great stocking fillers for the Little Ones. Then along came the lovely people at BIC who offered to send us some colouring products to test out, knowing how much the girls needed them I said 'Yes, please'.


BIC sent us a Kids Colouring Activity Set, some BIC Kids Evolution Colouring Pencils and BIC Kid Couleur Colouring Felt Tip Pens too. The girls were very pleased.


The BIC Kids Colouring Activity Set contains a whopping 80 pieces and is perfect for any child who loves getting arty. 18 Colouring pencils, 18 crayons, 12 felt tips, 12 magic pens and a glue stick too make this a fab set (no messy paints in this one which I really liked) and there is plenty to do in the included activity book with over 20 card pages. We had an Alvin and the Chipmunks activity book which had puzzles including a crossword, maze and dot to dot as well as some colouring pictures and cut out puppet pages too. The girls immediately got to work cutting colouring and creating a character parade. This set is available in Tesco RRP £22 and with a carrying handle it is perfect to taking to Granny's on Boxing Day. 

 

You wouldn't think there was a lot to say about felt tips and colouring pencils but I LOVE the BIC Kids Evolution Colouring Pencils (RRP £2.99), Oh god I must be getting old and parenty to say that! Unlike other pencils these are wood-free resin pencils which are chew-resistant and splinter proof making them safer for the Little Ones. 


Little 1 often absentmindedly chews her pens and pencils and Little 3 still likes to taste his, they are both being told constantly to take them out of their mouths so I liked the piece of mind that these wouldn't give them splinters. The resin also makes them super smooth to sharpen too.


The BIC Kid Couleur Felt Tip Pens (RRP £2.99) were well received by the girls as they approved of the 12 bright colours included. The pens are easy to hold and have fine tips so Little 1 can write neatly with them and they are durable too withstanding Little 3 jabbing them all over his paper. The Little Ones often get covered in pen on their hands or sleeves while they are colouring and I did not have to worry about getting it off, the children cleaned up with soap or a bath and the pen came out in a standard clothes wash. 

N.B We were gifted the products mentioned above for inclusion in a blog post, all opinions are our own honest thoughts.

30 November 2016

Family fun playing Scribble Scramble

As I have mentioned recently, the girls have reached an age where they can play games together now, they can both understand the rules and have the patience to play, wait their turn and win or lose graciously (mostly!). The girls play lots of games at home, sometimes by themselves and at other times we are all expected to join in. Last weekend when Grandad and Uncle M were visiting we tried out a new game that we were sent to test out, Scribble Scramble.

In Scribble Scramble the aim of the game is to try and guess what your team member is drawing before it is sucked into the moving Scribble Scramble unit. In the action packed game the quicker you guess the more points you earn, draw in space 3 and have the least time to guess before the drawing disappears but earn more points by getting it right or play it safe by drawing further down and risk taking longer to reach the 20 point goal.



Scribble Scramble includes 80 game cards with multiple drawing choices and plenty of options to vary the game, play in pairs or teams and even play on both sides of the board at the same time. The compact game unit has storage for its two Crayola Dry Erase pens and a slot to hold the cards while playing so it would be easy to transport and play this Christmas. It requires 2 AA batteries to operate and these are not included.



We had a good first go at playing the game, there were some easily identifiable masterpieces and some truly terrible drawings too, it was good fun and we all enjoyed playing. I like the fact that the playing surface is wipeable with a damp cloth/paper and two pens are included so there is no need to buy replacement parts for this game. It is pretty durable and will be getting a lot of use this Christmas here.

video

The recommended age range is 6 years and up and Little 1 was able to play rather well (that is her drawing on the video above). Little 2 at 4 and a half years gave it a really good go as well. We did let her choose an easy thing to draw as she wouldn't have been able to draw a lot of what was on the cards like the sayings etc and let her draw a bit before starting the board moving but even she was able to play and join in the fun.


Scribble Scramble is widely available and has an RRP of £20.

N.B We were gifted our Scribble Scramble game in return for this post. All opinions are our own honest views.

28 November 2016

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

Last weekend we took a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum to visit their annual Enchanted Christmas event, it was the second time we have been and it was even better than last year. Unfortunately, due to her being rather unwell with a throat infection, we had had to leave Little 1 at home with Nanny and just take Little 2 and Little 3 this year.


The main attraction is the illuminated tree trail, a mile of pushchair friendly magical and innovatively lit up forest designed each year to delight and enchant the whole family. 



Bundled up nice and warm against the wintery weather we arrived in time for our trail time slot, this is a new change to this year in order to spread the flow of people around the trail and prevent queues when everyone stops to admire the interactive displays. 



As we walked around the mile of pathway on the Arboretum tree trail we gazed in wonder at the lighting and which did feel rather magical. There were smoke machines pumping out little 0's in the air disappearing between the trees, bubbles and glittering lights shining through branches and the last remaining leaves silhouetting the trees. It is truly surreal and being there in the dark even with lots of people around you, I still felt like it was just me and the trees admiring the lights.



As well as the tree trail there are Christmas activities on offer for the whole family to take part in. We stopped in a tent at the end of the trail and Little 2 made a card by printing with a piece of fern and decorating it with glitter.


Father Christmas, dressed in traditional green, was there helped by his cheeky elves. Mrs Christmas was there too in a yurt telling Christmas stories keeping the Little ones entertained. As we walked around we saw fairy stilt walkers, listened to Christmas tunes played by a local brass band, and Little 2 hopped on for a ride on a traditional children's carousel.



At the end of the evening we headed back to the food tent where you can find a hog roll, chips, mulled wine, mince pie or traditional sweets and warmed up with a tasty cup of hot chocolate before heading home. We had spent almost three hours there without realising!!


My biggest tip if you are planning on taking a pushchair is to take plastic bags for the wheels, the trail, although pushchair friendly, can get really muddy if it has been raining and we found these prevent the car boot getting dirty.

The event is on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from the last weekend in November until 18th December 2016. Due to such popular demand, tickets are advance booking only. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas  for more information about the event, opening times and price information.

N.B We received free entry into this years event in return for this blog post, all opinions are our own honest views.

#MaternityMondays 28th November


Welcome to #MaternityMondays 28th November

I can not believe we are in the run up to Christmas, the last few weeks have gone so fast, the calendar is filling up with the girls school plays, Christingle service, Brownies Carol concert and xmas events, there is something happening almost every day!

Last week a post written by Mummy writes 'The hypervigilant mumma will I ever switch off?' really struck a chord with me. She wrote about how much she worries about her children and how emotionally exhausting it can be being 'mum' all the time. I have been feeling this myself lately, I am glad it isn't just me!

From next week I will be hanging up my hosting hat but #MaternityMondays will still be running with Emma over at www.farmerswifeandmummy.com

As always, please comment on both hosts' posts and as many of the others as you can.


Grab the badge and tweet us using the hashtag #MaternityMondays and we will share.

Have a lovely week.

26 November 2016

Can the Little Ones be too tired for school?

Looking at the girls sat on the sofa watching a Christmas film after school, I can see the tell tale rings of tiredness around their eyes. Little 1 is cuddling her comforter and Little 2 is automatically sucking her thumb and holding hers too, they are quiet and still which is unlike them. They are shattered, completely and utterly spent and they have another three weeks to go until the Christmas break.



We are treading on eggshells here, one or both if them is liable to blow any minute and equally likely to descend into fits of sobbing and tears for reasons known only to themselves. Yesterday Little 2 cried because our cat came and stared at her and she didn't want her to, while her sister has just got really rather angry that her banana didn't peel right! 

As a parent I know these are all signs of tiredness, this isn't my girls, where are they? My easy going happy Little 1 looks pale and tired while her younger sister is terribly grumpy. Unfortunately I have come to know that this is the norm (for my family at least) during the Winter term and the run up to Christmas.

Little 1 is working hard in year 2, the class work had definitely gone up a gear this year, she is practicing for her Christingle service and learning her times tables. Little 2 is working equally hard, as well as learning to read and write she is adjusting to being a school girl and the emotional side of being in a class of thirty, negotiating the dinner hall and the playground etiquette. She too is practicing a Christmas play, no wonder she is tired.

There are three weeks left of term, A Christmas play, a Christingle and a Carol Concert to got through, as well as Christmas parties. The girls are ready for a break already and it is only going to get worse. There seem to be so many bugs around at this time of year we have had 3 colds run through the family and a tummy bug since the start of October and Daddy, Little's 2 and 3 have had a cough for weeks. In order to help them through we are ensuring they get plenty of sleep and have been putting them to bed earlier, but coughs and colds have often caused disturbed nights. We are keeping them warm and eating well plus boosting their immune systems with vitamins too.

The other morning (a school day) after breakfast Little 1 curled up on the sofa with a blanket and was watching tv, she was quiet and for a child who is always hot this sent a warning signal to me. It turned out she had a headache, felt cold and her glands were up, but she didn't seem too unwell, brewing a cold or fighting a virus I thought, she was happy and didn't say anything about not going to school and so I gave her a dose of Nurofen and sent her in although I did feel bad about it. She had eaten a good breakfast and was happy and herself enough for me to know she wasn't that unwell and would be okay. I told her teacher just so that they knew she wasn't right and would keep an eye on her. When I picked her up she was pale and had a fever but she was still happy and her teacher said she had been quiet but okay. I dosed her up again, she ate her tea and we gave Rainbows a miss that night in favour of a bath and an early night. The next day she had come out in a full blown cold and felt much the same, she was still happy and chatty and again ate a good breakfast, she opted to go to school dosed up but I did indirectly give her an option to ask to stay home (So what do you want to do today?, to which she replied I am going to school).

As a parent you know when your child is unwell and even though they are not right you know (most of the time) if they can cope with a day at school. Little 1 had slept well that night, was eating well, happy and acting normally although sitting quietly rather than playing so I made the decision to send her to school with a dose of Calpol in this instance.

So 'Can the children be too tired and rundown for a day at school?' At what point do you decide they are so rundown they need a day of rest? Do you send them in and count down the hours until 3pm Friday when they can have a couple of quiet days or do you decide a day off  is in order at the first sign of illness? I am obviously talking about coughs and colds here not tummy bugs or Chicken Pox, any child who is obviously unwell or infectious needs to be off school for the sake of their own health and others. What do you think?

25 November 2016

TOMY Greedy Granny Game Giveway

Now that Little 2 is a bit older the girls regularly like to play games together, they can often be found in their bedrooms surrounded by open boxes and pieces scattered around the floor, giggling away and generally having a good time. We like to play games as a family too especially on cold, wet afternoons. Around Christmas time we have lots of visitors and the grandparents are often roped into playing games with the girls, we generally take one or two with us to Granny's at New Year to while away the hours with a little entertainment as well.

I have teamed up with TOMY again to offer one of my readers the chance to win the brand new mischievous Greedy Granny from the TOMY's legendary games range!



Granny loves biscuits. So much so that she has fallen asleep with the entire tray on her lap. No wonder everyone calls her Greedy Granny! Players are given the mission to take a biscuit of each type from Granny, while she slumbers, one wrong move and you could wake her and send the biscuits soaring!

Perfect for all the family, Greedy Granny is a suspenseful and whimsical game that will have everyone on the edge of their seats. Will you risk it for a biscuit? Or will your swift moves wake Granny?

Greedy Granny (RRP £19.99) can be played by 2-4 players and is suitable for children aged 5 and up, although Little 2 at 4 years has no trouble. 

For a chance to win simply enter the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

N.B We were gifted a Greedy Granny game of our own in return for this post.