26 November 2015

The Little ones take tea with Santa

With Christmas fast approaching we took the chance to take some time out as a family and enjoy a Christmas experience at our local Wyvale garden centre. Wyvale offer the chance to have Breakfast or Tea with that very special man in a red suit and with it being Little 3's first Christmas and possibly one of the last where Little 1 will wholeheartedly believe in Father Christmas the date was set and we looked forward to the event excitedly.

On arrival we were seated in a special cordoned off area where the tables were laid with red cloths, napkins and crackers as well as a Christmas themed activity sheet for the Little ones, the girls were delighted to find a name sticker for them too.

They quickly set about colouring and pulling their crackers while other guests were still arriving. Drinks were filled and coffee appeared served by the 'elves' as we awaited the arrival of the special guest.

We chose to have tea with Santa (but you can have breakfast with him if you prefer). The Little ones had the choice of a hot childrens meal (you know the kind of thing sausages, chicken goujons, fish bites etc, with mash or chips and peas or beans) or a 'picnic' from the childrens counter (usually a choice of sandwiches, crisps, fruit, yogurt etc) both with unlimited squash. The girls had chosen (you have to state your chosen meals when booking) sausage, mash and beans. Shortly after seating the meals came out and it was quite a plateful but the girls did their best only leaving one mound of potato each!

At least one paying adult has to accompany the children and there was a choice of two options for Daddy and I, either a tea/coffee and cake option or a full tea, we chose the full tea, it arrived on a little stand, a turkey, stuffing, cranberry and lettuce sandwich each (vegetarian option available too), a christmas flavour scone complete with pots of jam and cream as well as a mince pie and tea/coffee. Daddy and I were completely stuffed, we had to save our mince pies for later.

When most of us had finished eating it was time for the guest of honour and the 'elves' told the children a little story of where he lived and that they needed to call for him loudly. Santa appeared to the sound of bells in a lovely red suit looking very much like the real thing. He walked around the tables introducing himself and asking the children if they were having a good time and whether they had been good this year. Little 3 who had never seen this magical figure before was totally and utterly amazed sat there in his highchair mouth open wide staring at the strange man.

Santa took his seat nearby and the Little ones were excited to take their turn to go up and meet him properly.

To keep all the children occupied while they waited their turn colouring resumed and each child was given a cookie to decorate with icing and chocolate drops, even Little 3 was given one although he proceeded to consume the chocolate drops (his first taste of chocolate) while daddy did the icing!

It was soon our turn to sit with Santa, he chatted to the children and posed for pictures then the girls were allowed to chose their christmas gift from a selection of toys in 2 large tubs. Little 1 chose a plaster of paris butterfly painting kit and Little 2 made a beeline for a little doll with various outfits to dress her in (she had wanted one for ages). The whole event lasted about 90 minutes ending with the Little ones being given a bag of chocolate coins each to take home too.

Breakfast or tea with Santa can be booked at a Wyvale near you online here and runs from now until Christmas eve but be quick, spaces are limited and sell out fast. It really is good value for money with the children's experience £9.99 (meal, cookie decorating, activity sheet, gift and a treat) and the adult full meal and drink £7.99 or £3.99 for a cake/pastry and drink mini option.

Thanks to the team at Wyvale Gloucester we had a lovely tea with Santa experience and we would do it again next year. 

The only thing I have to add is that while Little 1's chosen gift was of great quality (yes she was sat painting in her pyjamas not long after arriving home that evening, I couldn't not let her open her gift from santa could I?) Little 2's gift was not the best. The dolls head came off just taking her out of the packaging and the clothes were almost paper like too, so they didn't last the weekend. It was a pity, we did try to get her to choose something that looked a little more robust but she has been desperate for a doll like that ever since her big sister got one for her birthday last month and couldn't be persuaded by anything else. 

N.B We received Complementary tickets to attend the event but all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts. 

18 November 2015

Simple sensory play for Little 3

Little 3 has reached a really inquisitive stage recently, he is exploring everything, really looking at it and working it out and a little less quick to put things to his mouth, it is lovely to see him so interested in things.

I made him up a few simple sensory pots, to have a go at rolling and shaking and exploring, he loved them and it kept him occupied for ages.

I used a few old food storage containers with secure lids that I knew he couldn't remove and that wouldn't pop off if dropped/thrown about for safety and a couple of old milk storage containers for the liquid ones again with secure lids. You could use things like butter tubs and empty fizzy drinks bottles as long as the lids were secure and your little one was supervised throughout. I opted to use food containers as I knew they would be safe if chewed.

I filled the tubs with dry pasta shells, baby pasta stars and dry rice then secured the lids and the bottles with christmas confetti and pom poms and added water to those. I nearly used coloured water but then thought twice, it would be much easier to pick up a few pom poms bits and dry a puddle than getting food colouring out the carpet if the lids did work loose!

I let Little 3 loose with them and he shook, rattled, rolled , chewed and tipped the pots. He liked the pasta ones best, I think the water ones were a little heavy for him to hold as they were a bit wide for him to grip, I have some handles that fit those bottles somewhere I'll have to dig out so he can pick them up easier.

You'll have to excuse the fact that he looks completely and utterly shattered and a bit spaced out, he had a really bad cold and his cough had prevented him from napping that day so he was very tired and a bit grumpy too! He did enjoy his sensory pots, honest.

I managed to get one smile, poor thing looks terrible! He did enjoy his sensory play it kept him occupied for ages and he has played with them lots since. Now I just need to think what else to use, maybe lentils and cereals next.

15 November 2015

Jingle belly this Christmas with Ella's kitchen

It may only be November but Little 3 has had his first taste of Christmas dinner thanks to Ella's Kitchen, he thought it was scrummy (and Mummy did too!)

The Ella's kitchen Jingle Belly Christmas Dinner pouch is suitable from 7 months and is full of turkey with all the trimmings, potatoes, broccoli, parsnips, carrots, cranberries and even sprouts.

This year Ella's kitchen have teamed up with Save the Children to help kids in the UK, 30p from the sale of each Jingle Belly pouch will go towards their Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme, which promotes the importance of family mealtime and the positive impact this can have on a child's development.

FAST aims to build stronger bonds between parents, schools and communities to make sure children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school and in life.

If you can't wait until Christmas day to try your little one with their first taster of Christmas dinner or perhaps you need a little something for your baby's stocking you will be helping a good cause along the way. You can get hold of a yummy Jingle Belly pouch from Boots, Asda and Sainsbury's this Christmas. 

N.B We received a sample of Jingle Belly for free. This was not a sponsored post.

3 November 2015

An autumn walk, changing times and a lot of posing

Autumn is well and truly here now, there is a carpet of yellow leaves everywhere I look and bare trees too. It is damp, drizzly and foggy here and already it is dimpsy on the school run as the darker evenings are drawing in. 

Autumn days are perfect for walks in wellington's, kicking up leaves and posing for pictures, well on our family strolls anyway. We went for a walk with Granny and Grampy the other day and the Little ones wanted to have lots of pictures taken, even Little 2 who is generally less keen to be in front of the lens, couldn't get enough of the camera and I got some lovely pictures that really show off her true character.

Since leaving rising 3's and starting at pre-school she has come out of her shell a lot, she used to be the quiet one, as good as gold and would be the first to do as she was asked to try and please me. She is still a good girl however she is becoming more confident and standing up for herself against Little 1 who can sometimes rule the roost, this means the noise level in our house has recently risen a lot!

The girls are just like any other sisters they can play a lovely game for an hour together or be bickering every five minutes depending on their mood. On our walk they were having fun hiding in amongst the trees and throwing the leaves around, giggling and jumping out together.

Little 3 while not yet able to join in with the girls games certainly makes himself heard too having learnt to clench his fists, grit his teeth and scream at full volume lately. He was jabbering away as we went for our wander, smiling and taking in his changing surroundings until he gave up and had an afternoon nap while the girls played around him.

Times are changing for us babyproofing is on the agenda. Little 3 is getting ready to crawl, the all too familiar superman pose on the carpet with grunts of effort, getting up high on his hands and drawing up his knees he will be zooming across the carpet before I know it. We have bought a room divider (our lounge is U shaped) so he can have a safe section to play in without being restricted on space away from bits of playmobil, treasured lego creations and parts of puzzles and games he is likely to suck to a soggy mess. Now just to dig out the fire guard and click the safety gates back into place and we'll be sorted, ready when you are little man.

The primary school application letter arrived for Little 2 today, it hardly seems that she will be old enough for school next year, there will be two school age children in our house, the Little Ones are growing up. I love this picture of her, my little girl, clever, cheeky and gorgeous, my middle one. 

So there you have it, a bit of a rambly ol' post really, the seasons are a changing and so are the children. For now, with Christmas is just around the corner, we are enjoying the outdoors and having family fun.

And Little 2, she just makes me smile.

30 October 2015

The Little ones go to Legoland

Last weekend we headed to Legoland Windsor as a treat for the girls, we had surprised them on Little 1's birthday with home made tickets telling them they were going a couple of weeks previously and they were really excited, they had been counting the sleeps and suddenly it was time to go.

An early start on the Friday morning saw us arriving at the park around half ten after a smooth journey but having been caught in traffic driving through Windsor park, the girls were so good in the car and Little 3 slept thankfully, he does not really do long journeys he is either asleep or crying bless him, I think he gets bored. 

On arrival the girls were excited and shouting out what they could see and leaning over barriers and fences to watch the bigger rides as we walked down into the depths of the park.

We spent the rest of the morning building mini pumpkin models and adding them to the halloween display, playing on the play area and tucking into our sandwiches while building lego in Heartlake City.

The girls sat on our shoulders and watched the Lego Friends show which they enjoyed and Little 3 miraculously managed to nap throughout the whole show!

Daddy spent most of the afternoon queueing for a boat ride with the girls while Little 3 and I went for a wander, armed with a snack the girls were really well behaved in the queue which took an hour and a quarter instead of the 40 minutes advertised but they had really wanted to go on that boat. I ended up missing them taking their turn as I had decided they were going to be a while yet after popping back to see where they had got to in the queue and sat down to feed Little 3, only to see them getting off the ride as I popped him back in the buggy to go and watch them have their turn. oh well, they were all smiling.

Luckily that was the biggest ride wait of the weekend and the rest were only a few minutes or so, the girls both enjoyed driving a lego car and being in control of a helicopter.

After a night at our hotel where we ended up playing musical beds (who thought two double beds in a family room was a good idea), with two small girls pretending to snore and giggling/poking each other each other until Daddy swapped places with Little 2 who then spent the night sleeping like a starfish next to me, how can someone so small take up so much room, while I attempted to resettle Little 3 numerous times without waking the others up! A hearty cooked breakfast and lots of coffee for me and we were back at the park for opening time.

After spending the day before looking around the park, allowing the children to play at the lego stations and going on a few rides, we had made a plan and rushed to the rides we really wanted to go on and having got there early we got straight on. We all loved the Atlantis under the sea ride, Little 3 was transfixed by the fish (sorry about the dark picture, no flash was allowed).

Little 3 had his first train ride and got a face full of cold water when we got squirted from the side but he didn't seem to mind, he was too busy watching everything pass by.


We ate our lunch while we watched a puppet show and played with more lego, rode on some more rides and played in the park at Duplo valley before it started to rain, we had come prepared and the girls donned their rainsuits as we explored miniland.

Everyone was rather tired by this point after walking miles around the park for two days so we headed off for an early tea as we wanted to hit the road before all the traffic kicked out from the rugby world cup semi's incase we got stuck in it on the motorway. The girls wanted one last go at panning for gold and earnt themselves a medal before we headed home.

All three Little ones were asleep by the time we had left the car park and it was a smooth 2 hour drive home with a quick stop to feed Little 3 some tea and a snack for everyone else, a change into pyjamas and a glass of milk later the girls fell straight asleep in their beds until morning they really must have been shattered.

We had a fun weekend at Legoland and enjoyed spending time together as a family, where shall we go next?

20 October 2015

Weaning Little 3 with Ella's kitchen

Little 3 has now been weaning 2 months and he is doing well judging by the hefty 1lb 10oz weight gain last month! He is now just turned 7 months and is eating everything I give him from mini sandwiches, to chunks of fruit and veg and bits of roast dinner, he even tried noodles the other night (boy that was messy), the majority of his food is home cooked but what about the times when I need something quick or when we are on the go or he simply refuses the lovingly prepared portion of yummy home cooked fare that I had planned for his dinner.

This is where Ella's Kitchen come in, over the years I have tried most of the baby food jars and pouches on the market when weaning the three Little Ones and I have to say Ella's Kitchen are my favourite. The food actually looks like proper food, it is not all orange goo with lumps in it it is actual food in tiny little textured portions. on opening a pouch you get an inviting aroma of what is in there not like some others that all look, smell and taste the same. Ella's Kitchen pouches also taste really yummy, like real food. Yes I have tasted quite a few of Little 3's dinners just to check they are not too hot of course!!

When Ella's Kitchen heard how much we liked their baby food they sent us some goodies for Little 3 to try. A couple of breakfasts, a yoghurt pouch, some of their fruit slurpers for the girls and their new range of 6 months plus thicker texture pouches too.

Straight off I love the design of the pouches, bright inviting colours, cartoon type drawings of the ingredients and taste bud tingling meal names - fancy some 'very very tasty vegetable and lentil bake with cumin' or 'lip smacking spag bol with a sprinkle of cheese' anyone? They certainly do get my taste buds tingling and they are not even meant for me! 

Ella's Kitchen have recently introduced a range of 6 months plus pouches designed to bridge the gap between runny first purees suitable from 4 months and the ones with a bit of texture and the beginnings of lumps suitable from 7 months. Having been fed on my cooking Little 3 has sped through the stages of puree weaning as I didn't really start with runny goo more slightly thicker puree and by 6 and a half months he was ready to try something a bit more solid but not yet quite ready for the textured 7 month pouches which caused him to gag a bit. 

We tried the new 6 months plus range and we loved them as the perfect texture for the stage Little 3 was at. Various combos such as 'tomato and lentil bake with red peppers' and 'cauliflower cheese with butter beans' ticked the boxes for me with tasty new flavours for him to try and still easily digestible and gentle on his little tummy too.

The texture of these pouches is of a really thick puree (think mashed potato) and although Little 3 gagged the first few spoonfuls the first time we tried a pouch he soon began chomping, chewing and using his tongue to move the food around and had no problems with the texture or the yummy new tastes he was experiencing.

More Please!

These pouches are just like the others in the Ella's Kitchen range and completely 100% organic, with No added refined sugar or salt, No concentrates and No additives or colourings either, they are available in supermarkets RRP £1.29 for 120g pouch.

Little 3 Liked all the 6 month pouches and the mango yoghurt pouch we tried too. He wasn't quite so sure of the breakfast pouches though, they are made with greek yoghurt and had a slight tang to them (as they have no added sugar) which he isn't used to for breakfast as I normally feed him baby porridge or toast and fruit which are both quite sweet, I think he would have preferred them as a pudding.

Ella's Kitchen also sent the girls some of their fruit smoothie fruit pouches, these are big hits in our house with the favourites being 'the red one' and 'the purple one'. I buy them most weeks and they are eaten by all the Little Ones, as pudding or breakfast by Little 3 and on the go, as a snack or in lunchboxes for the girls. We were sent a few flavours we hadn't tried before. Little 2 liked 'the white one' which I hadn't bought previously as it was coconut and I didn't think they would like it (I was wrong). Little 1 likes 'the green one' with kiwi and the new addition to the fruit smoothie family 'the orange one' with mangoes, coconut milk, apples and bananas for a tropical taste so it looks like my cupboards will be filled with an array of colourful smoothies from now on. I had planned to take a picture of the girls enjoying them but they were all gone before I could do so!

N.B We received the products mentioned and pictures above from Ella's kitchen in retrn for this post, however all opinions are our own honest thoughts.