30 August 2014

My daughter- the diva

As I write this Little 1 is fast approaching 5 years old, when did that happen, where has the last year gone? My little girl is all grown up and starting Reception next week. She soooo needs to start school, the summer holidays have been exceptionally long this year.

My cheeky, happy little girl has given me a taste of the teenage years in the last few weeks and I have to say I really hope she doesn't grow up too fast, I am not looking forward to the real teenage years AT ALL.

We have had some days with non stop whinging and strops, a little bit of back chat and some plain nastiness towards her sister, this is not my little girl, what has happened to her? I think mostly it is to do with going to school, she must be really anxious, she has been getting easily upset and that is not like her.

She has been asking every day how long it is until she goes to school and showing everyone her new uniform but yet she refuses to try it on! She has recently told me out of the blue how much she misses her pre-school teacher from last year and even her nursery from over a year ago.

Little 1 comes across as being happy and confident, many people have told me what a happy child she is and it is true, but underneath she is a sensitive girl and she doesn't show her vulnerable side until you get to know her.

A couple of her friends are moving away very soon and most of her friends are going to be in different classes (you can read about that here), I think this has affected her more than she has let on and the recent behaviour is a result of the uncertainty and angst she is hiding inside about starting school.

I also think she is bored, last year she went to the most fantastic little pre-school attached to the school, they used the school hall for p.e and did their nativity with reception as well as lots of learning and letter recognition too, having had six weeks away from all of that, although we have been busy, she has become bored and really is ready for the challenge of school now, I think this too explains her tricky behaviour.

Her behaviour away from the home is as good as it has always been (bar one or two small incidents) and she still so wants to please me and help me. I hope that next week when she starts school she will find new friends and settle quickly into school life and a new routine, I am sure when she does the anxiety will fade and I will have my super little girl back.

Until that time I expect the diva-ish behaviour will continue, these pictures really sum her up at the moment, hiding behind her glasses and rocking it out with a stick on a dustbin taking all the worries away with great big whacks, yet still smiling and quietly confident in her self as she grins at those looking on, oh how I love you Little 1.

28 August 2014

Frozen inspired tutus-no sewing required

If you have young (or not so young) children or even no children at all you must have heard of 'Frozen' the film that all children are talking about (if you haven't where have you been?) 

Well, in our house it has become the latest thing, we took Little 1 to see it at the cinema when it came out last year and left it at that, but when her friends went mad on it we got swept along too and now have the soundtrack on permanent repeat in the car and the blu-ray on at least once a week. The Little ones know the songs by heart and spout them out randomly many times a day. Little 1 is usually Elsa and Little 2 is Anna.

I occasionally get a mad idea to create something, I do like to do a bit of sewing or creative work once in a while but I don't have much time to do it with two children, a home and a blog to look after. Our good friends are moving away in a weeks time and we will really be sad to see them go, so I decided I wanted to make something for the Little ones and their friends as a leaving present.

I had seen a post on no-sew tutus a few months back, infact it was one of the first blog posts I ever read when I started blogging, I thought it looked easy and wanted to give it a go. Having two 'Frozen' mad children myself and knowing my friend's children loved 'Frozen', pretty dresses and tutus I decided to make them no-sew (well almost) Frozen inspired tutus. 

I decided on which colours I would like, lilac, light pink and aqua, all our favourite colours and bought 100 metre rolls of soft tulle in each colour, this would be just enough for the four tutus, each needing around 25 metres of the 3 colours. (depending on the length of the skirt needed and the waist measurement you may need more or less than this so it is best to work it out and take measurements beforehand.)

The easiest way to make these tutus is to use a simple piece of elastic and tie a knot in it and attach the tulle all the way around but I wanted to use ribbon instead. I bought 'Frozen' themed ribbon in two different designs so the Little ones would know whose tutu was whose.

First I decided on the length of the skirt I needed, in the case of Little 1 it was 30cm, to make these tutus you have to knot the tulle onto the ribbon so it needs to be double the length plus a few cm for the knot so I cut 65cm lengths of tulle ready to tie on. Little 1 needed about 100 of these strips for her skirt so round 35 of each colour, this was the bit that took the time and was the most tedious measuring and cutting it all.

Then it is just a matter of knotting it onto the ribbon (or elastic if you prefer), I found the easiest way to do it was to tape either end of my ribbon to my ironing board (when I used pins they kept popping out) so that it was taught and simply fold the tulle strips in half placed underneath the ribbon with a bit poking out the top, then pop my fingers through the hole at the top and pull the rest through creating a simple knot and pull it tight.

I started in the middle and worked my way out both sides alternating the colours and making sure they were pushed tightly together, in all it took about an hour to make each skirt. I stitched the final knot into place on the ribbon just so that they would all stay in place but you won't need to do that if you use elastic and turned and stitched the ends of the ribbon to prevent it from fraying too. And there you have it a simple no-sew (almost) tutu.  

The Little ones wear theirs with the ribbon just tied in a bow which looks rather sweet and means it can be adjusted as they grow, but you could add a popper or velcro fastening if you wish.

Check out our tutu photoshoot with Karen and her girls from 'Would like to be' when the Little ones gave their friends their moving away tutu presents! You can also see Karen's tutu photoshoot post here

26 August 2014

The one with the mud kitchen

On a very wet bank holiday Monday we headed to Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire to try out their wildplay event. We had pre booked our tickets and nearly didn't go due to the torrential weather predicted, but we didn't want to waste the money we had spent and went for it armed with waterproofs, wellies, umbrellas and multiple changes of clothing!

We left home in the pouring rain wondering if it was a good idea, at worst we could just look around the castle and bow out. When we arrived we sat in the car and ate our picnic lunch, all four of us in the front seats, the Little ones thought it was great, the rain running down the window!

We decided to head around the castle first as I'm sure they would not have appreciated 2 very muddy children tramping around the rooms if we had done it the other way around. It was raining steadily but not too heavily, we weren't getting very wet very fast.

After looking around the castle (sorry no pictures as there was no photography allowed!) we headed towards the wildplay event and on the way passed the play area.

There was a full size landrover, a motorbike and a tractor to play on as well as swings and slides, it was a bit unsafe to go on the treetop walkway as it was so wet so we missed that out.

After we had dragged two soggy bottomed children from the play area we carried onto the wildplay event. It was run by a company who try to encourage a love of the outdoors through play. First the Little ones made a pretend animal foot print using sand and plaster of paris but they didn't turn out that well as it was so damp, they fell apart on the way home!

In the next tent they did something I hadn't seen before, Little 1 was given a sheet of linen and asked to lay leaves and petals on it in a pattern or a picture and then given another sheet of linen to lay onto then handed a hammer and encouraged to bash it as much as she could.

This caused all the chlorophyll and dye to be released from the flowers/leaves and onto the linen creating two identical pictures, once the petals etc had been brushed off, she was then given some pens to decorate her picture. It looked really good and we will be trying this again at home with lots of different coloured petals.

We then moved onto the bit the girls had been waiting for, the den building and mud kitchen which was down in the forest by the lake, they headed straight for the mud kitchen.

A whole kitchen area had been set up with packets and boxes...

Pretend sinks, draining boards and many, many pots and pans, spoons and utensils...

 And buckets of mud and water...

The Little ones got stuck in making mud pies, Little 1 was baking apparently and Little 2 was making cups of tea. They got absolutely caked in mud and had smiles plastered across their faces to match.

Once we had cleaned them up a bit in the water provided, we decided that we'd had enough of the rain, the children were getting tired and damp, and headed for the car jumping in puddles along the way to try and get some of the mud off! We peeled off soggy rainsuits and changed them into cosy dry clothes. I had brought a flask of hot chocolate and some snacks so we refueled and warmed up before heading home. A day we thought was going to be a washout was actually quite enjoyable, we had ended up staying all afternoon! I'm glad we went.

23 August 2014

The one where Little 1 rocks

There are always lots of things going on around here August bank holiday weekend, we are lucky to live in the beautiful cotswolds and be surrounded by countryside, canals, rivers and the Forest of Dean, there are so many places to go.

This weekend we headed to one of our favourite places along the canal, where we often go for a stroll and a treat. This time however we met up with Granny and Grampy to have a look around the canal festival that was going on there.

We arrived after lunch and had missed much of the days entertainment, there was singing and folk music as well as a magician for the children earlier on, when we arrived they were doing a boat maneuvering contest where the canal barge owners navigated a short course, turned and sailed back backwards. This didn't hold the little ones interest long.

We had taken some bread for the ducks so sat on the edge and fed them instead.

Little 2 liked sitting on all the posts!
We then had a wander around a few stalls which were mainly canal and boat orientated, one of the Canal Trust stalls had activities for the children and the Little ones did some colouring sheets and made some duck hats too. Then we were off in search of an ice cream.

Mmm giant whippy ice creams are just the ticket after walking around for a while. The Little ones couldn't wait to get stuck into theirs.

Once the ice cream had kicked in, the Little ones found their energy and while the rest of us sat and watched the boats go by they played, first being cheeky and peeping out from behind the trees giggling and chasing each other...

And then Little 1 put on her sunglasses and after arming herself with a stick began to 'make music' on everything- the trees, the bench and finally a dustbin can lid!! (We did tell her to stop as it was quite loud and interrupting the peaceful canal side but not before I had taken several pictures of her getting her groove on!)

She really got stuck into it!...

We left at teatime just as the music and entertainment was starting again, the girls were getting hungry and little 2 was tired, we had a lovely afternoon and met some old friends while we were there too. We have more fun planned this weekend so watch this space......

21 August 2014

Proud mummy moment-Hockey medal for Little 1.

I have mentioned a few times before that Little 1 plays hockey, she attends a hockey club for ages 2 and a half to 6 where she learns hockey skills by playing games aimed to develop hockey skills, she does things like dribbling around cones, goal shooting, running games-to develop their ability to stop and change direction and team work. 

They are not taught tackling nor do they play actual games as it is the skills they learn and then if they want to they can join the proper hockey clubs afterwards. Around here the proper hockey clubs will not take children under 7 because of the injury risk so a club like this is great as she can learn the skills she needs while she is young and then if she wants move up she can.

Hockey was not our choice of extra curricular activity! I had suggested she might like to go to ballet like some of her friends or gymnastics like I did as a child but she wasn't really interested. Last summer we took her to a sports fest near us to find some information on what was about and to pick up some info from the gymnastics club. We walked onto this huge field with various sports stands and displays on that day of the year it was 32 degrees wondering what we were doing.

Little 1 made a beeline for the adult hockey stand where a lad was whacking balls into a net, she picked up a full size stick and started hitting balls into the net. A lady came over and gave her a smaller stick and some lighter bigger balls and off she went, her aim was brilliant and she sure had some power behind those little arms. The lady asked if she played hockey at school and I replied that she was only 3 and 3/4! She was pretty impressed with Little 1's skill and told us of the toddler hockey club across the field.

We carried on looking around the circuit of stalls and just a few minutes later we were sought out by the club teacher who had been told of Little 1 by the other stall, we were offered a free session and took Little 1 along the day after her fourth birthday, she has now been attending 9 months and loves going every weekend.

The best thing is that they work towards skills medals, bronze, silver, gold and a mini trophy level in each of the 9 skills areas such as posture, dribbling, scoring, and group work. Little 2 recently earnt her silver medal. Here she is receiving it with her teacher. She is now working on her gold medal.

I am very proud of my little girl as she tries really hard and is doing really well too, the only problem is that when we go to play crazy golf as a family now she really does give Daddy and I a beating, I am sure she is using her hockey skills to get all those hole in ones!!

Well Done Little 1, you clever thing x

19 August 2014

A lake, a stroll and Little 1 hand feeds the ducks

A few days ago on Nanny's day off we jumped in the car and went for a ride. We ended up at a little lake we like in a small town called Newent, there are loads of really tame ducks there and the Little ones love to feed them.

First we stopped off in a little cafe for lunch. The one we go to is just by the lake, it is lovely and friendly, the food is homemade and very reasonable, there is a Christian atmosphere and while we are not religious it does not make us feel uncomfortable being there. They have toys and a stair gate upstairs and a playhouse, sandpit and toys in the gardens too so it really is great for the Little ones, we can have an uninterrupted coffee while they play.

After our lunch and play we ventured off to the lake, bread in hand to feed the ducks.

There are lots of ducks on the lake as well as giant fish, but I couldn't get any pictures of them as the water was just too muddy. The ducklings that were there last time we went have all but grown up now and it was lovely to see them in their newly emerging feathers.

The Little ones as always were very keen to feed the ducks and they must have been very hungry as they came out of the water running up the bank towards the girls when they spotted the bread.

Little 1 was really brave and held out her hand with the bread, the ducks took it from her hand, I was really proud of her, she didn't flinch and was beaming, she really has grown up and become more confident in the last few weeks as before she would have run away.

Little 2 however was a bit more cautious and hid behind her sister!

The girls wanted to have their picture taken on a bench that we had taken a picture on when we had been there previously but this time they had faces full of bread!!

Just as we were at the farthest point of the lake the heavens opened and it started to pour with rain, we hadn't taken our coats having left them in the car as I had said 'Nah it doesn't look like it is going to rain!' oops!

We hid under the trees and spotted a heron on the lake enjoying the shower. We went for a little wander up the paths leading off the lake staying in the trees but we still got dripped on by the big drips, it was quite fun actually.

Once it had stopped raining we continued our stroll back to the car with a bit of fish spotting and balancing on logs on the way.

I took this picture of the girls standing on a tree stump and later when I had put it on the computer I realised just how much the girls had grown over the summer, I can't believe how tall Little 2 has gotten, it wasn't long ago that she only reached her sisters shoulder!

After our walk we headed to a nearby garden centre for a coffee and a play on their play area as it was raining again. We had a lovely afternoon out and despite it being a bit rainy we all got lots of fresh air and some exercise too. 

17 August 2014

Ice cream cone cupcakes- well, nearly!

I have seen quite a few posts recently on bloggers making ice cream cone cupcakes and thought it would be something the Little ones would enjoy doing seeing as they love baking cakes and eating cake and ice creams too, I thought they would enjoy the novelty factor.

We haven't done much baking over the summer holidays, the girls have either been outside playing in the garden or we have been out and about having fun so it was about time we did some more. 

We usually bake from scratch as I think food tastes better that way and it is educational for the children, learning about how to cook, where food comes from and a bit of maths and science thrown in too. I came across a kit to make ice cream cone cupcakes when out shopping I bought it to give them a try and when it was drizzling one afternoon we gave it a go.

First the girls laid out the cones on a baking tray and then we got making the cakes. It was a simple packet chocolate muffin mix that they just needed to add water and whisk, then spoon into the cones. For a simple mix it made an enormous amount of mess as it was rather gooey and drippy and we all ended up covered in the sticky mix even me!

The cones are then baked in the oven for 20ish minutes until the cake is cooked, they rose up in the cones and did look quite like chocolate ice creams.

The next stage was to make the butter icing and pipe it onto the cakes to look like ice cream and decorate with sprinkles, the instructions said to add 60g of butter and 1 teaspoon of milk and mix. The Little ones were itching to do the topping after having waited for the cakes to cool were getting a little impatient. I may have inadvertently added a tablespoon of milk instead of a teaspoon and made the mix rather too runny, unfortunately I didn't have anymore icing sugar to hand to thicken it up. 

We went ahead and used it anyway spooning rather than piping the icing onto our cakes! Our cupcakes looked like melted ice creams that had been out too long but the girls said they tasted good!

We didn't really like the cone part of the cakes as they were bland and soggy (which could have been due to the runny icing), most of them ended up being eaten with a fork getting the cake out and leaving the cone and I did throw several away the next day as the cake was hard despite being stored in a tin. I was disappointed with this cupcake kit and have to say that I will stick to baking from scratch in the future.

N.B This was not a sponsored post.