26 July 2016

Little 2 is victorious at Chedworth Roman Villa

One Sunday morning when the Little Ones were all up bright and early we grabbed a few snacks for lunch and jumped in the car headed for a National Trust place not far from us. Little 1 had been doing a mosaic colouring book and we had the idea of taking her to see some real ones.

Chedworth Roman Villa is about 40 minutes from us and while Little 3 napped in the car, I chatted to the girls telling them the things I could remember about Romans. We parked on the lane leading up to the villa and walked up the road. The lady on reception was lovely and gave the girls an activity sheet and a '50 things to do over the summer' activity book and stickers to fill in over the holidays too. At Chedworth there are also tracker packs available, rucksacks filled with activity cards, a trail, magnifying glasses, tape measures, bug identifying cards and other tools so the children can be kept busy all the way around, but we just missed out this time as the family before had had the last one.

First we had a bit of lunch and coffee in the cafe before heading out to look around. There has been a lot of work done recently at Chedworth, last year there was a building built over some of the villa remains and a path outside was dug up to reveal a huge mosaic which has had a walkway built over it while the National Trust are painstakingly restoring the mosaic underneath. The girls were interested in looking at the mosaic and then walking through to look at the remains of the dining room and finding out about the baths. Little 1 was particularly interested in the fact that this villa would have belonged to a prosperous family who would most likely have had slaves, and we talked about how the slaves would serve the family. 

Having moved outside we had a look in the water feature that they would have used for worship and spotted a few newts, I did try to take a picture but we had to stand behind a rail and I couldn't zoom in close enough.

We wandered around the remains of the villa and after reading the information signs told the girls what each bit was and what it was used for. Above is a picture of the pillars from what would have been the underfloor heating, the floor would have sat on top of these.

The Little Ones enjoyed running in and out of all the 'rooms' and walls. Little 1 wanted to pose for pictures in the Daisies while Little 3 preferred to eat them! We found out that underneath all the grass and flowers were more mosaics in some places and last year a big one had been dug up but then recovered to protect it from the elements. The National Trust is saving to build another building in this area of the villa so they can uncover and show the mosaic but they need to raise rather a lot of money for that.

As we were exploring we found out about some really rare snails that could be found in the grounds, funnily enough they are called 'Roman' snails. It was breeding season when we were there and we found about 8 as we walked around and looked under bushes and around the edges of the walls. Daddy had picked one up to show the girls before we saw the sign saying that you needed a license to handle them! They were a white colour and at least 4-5 cm in size. The girls were fascinated.

One of the things I love about the National trust these days is that they cater for families and children, there is always plenty for the little ones to do to keep them occupied and activities on hand for them too. At Chedworth we had a go at playing with some old replica toys, creating mosaics with tiny magnetic squares, watching the birds (I even saw a woodpecker for a while before Little 2 scared it off) and dressing up and pretending to have a battle.

Our brave Little 2 fought valiantly and defeated Daddy Dastardly in a ferocious battle, she was victorious and proud of her efforts running around the green cheering. Little 1 had a quick battle with her sister but had stripped off her dressing up before I had the chance to take a picture.

We had a good time at Chedworth and spent a few hours there looking around and exploring, the Little ones enjoyed running around and playing as well as getting hands on with the activities, they were all pretty tired when we headed for home.

I wonder where we will visit next...

21 July 2016

Little 3 at 16 months old.

Little 3 has reached the grand old age of 16 months, it is hard to believe how small he was just a few months ago. He has definitely left babyhood far behind and is a fully fledged toddler now. The past month has seen many changes in him.

Having learnt to walk at 13 months Little 3 has totally mastered that skill and is now running everywhere, he spends a large part of the day trying to spin around in circles until he is dizzy and loves to kick a little ball around, he is also beginning attempts at jumping (bouncing on his toes with bent knees so far). His physical development has come on leaps and bounds although he seems to have had a bit of a growth spurt. Having got a bit taller he has gotten really unsteady on his feet recently and that ended up with us in A&E the week before last with a rather nasty head bump when he lost his balance and hit his head on the corner of the living room wall.

He has also begun climbing more, luckily not out of his cot yet, but he moves things around and stands on them to reach up, a number of times I have found him pleased as punch because he has reached something his sisters have left out of reach (or so they thought) and once or twice I have caught him try to get food in the kitchen, the monkey!  

I fancy a cake!
Little 3's co-ordination and fine motor skills are coming on a treat, he loves to get out the threading cards on a daily basis and tries as hard as he can to get the laces through the holes although he has only managed it with help so far, he also likes to thread the laces through anything and tie up random objects so I am finding laces everywhere.

He currently loves painting, drawing and colouring and is really pleased with himself as he sees the marks appearing on the paper or water mat, he sits so nicely with concentration etched all over his face as he dips the brush in the water pot or puts a lid on a pen, but he does still put things in his mouth so I have to keep a close eye on him. 

Little 3 is a marvel with his cutlery skills and will sit with a spoon and fork using both very well and rarely uses his hands now. He particularly likes to try and pick up his peas (a favourite food) with his fork and will persevere with this for ages, it helpfully keeps him amused for quite some time at mealtimes. He doesn't like you to help him and will get quite cross if we try but he will let us help him to hold his cutlery in a better way so he has more success. Although he is a dab hand with his utensils he is still only young and finds yoghurt and those fruit puree pots particularly challenging where he will usually get frustrated and dive in with his fingers, he quite likes to wear them too.

Little 3 also loves books at the moment too. He is always pointing to the books we have and saying 'book', he will climb up on the sofa with one by himself or reverse himself onto my lap for me to read to him and it is the first thing he asks for after his nap. He doesn't mind what we read but he enjoys books with flaps the most.

Little 3 has also had a big development in the way that he plays, before he would flit from one thing to another for a few minutes at a time or bash things but now he seems to have taken in what to do with his toys. I have been watching him play and he now pushes his cars along the floor making engine noises or makes the little Happyland people walk up the stairs and things like that.

I set up the train set the other day and we played together for absolutely ages, it was fascinating watching him trying to work things out, fit the bits together and put the trains onto the track. He liked whooshing the trains over the bridge and spent a long time doing this.

Now that Little 3 is a bit more grown up he is just like one of the gang and not 'the baby' anymore, his level of language (he currently speaks around 30 words although some of them are partial still) and understanding means he can play with the girls. He can get the idea of their simple games and follow directions as the girls build towers for him to knock down, play with the cars together or just kick a ball around the garden. He will go and sit with them for a snack or curl up on the sofa and watch a few minutes of television with them after school. It has been great of late to see the three of them playing together and I look forward to watching them develop as a trio over the summer holidays.

He is also such a cutie, curly dark blonde hair with a cheeky smile, my boy at 16 months. 

17 July 2016

Moving on up.. Little 1 has a wobble

First off, you might think I would be writing a post about Little 2 feeling nervous about starting primary school, but you would be wrong.

Little 2 can not wait to start school, she is excited and a little bit nervous but she is taking it all in her stride. She has been a bit emotional at home and this could be a bit of anxiety welling up, but it could also just be because she is very tired right now. There has been lots going on for her with a pre-school leavers service, a pre-school trip, and story sessions in Reception as well as a few busy weekends lately. So no wonder the poor girl is tired she needs the holidays. 

On the whole Little 2 is desperate to start school and keeps asking if it is this week she starts in Red class. She keeps peeping at her pinafores lined up in the wardrobe and desperately wants to buy her first pair of school shoes but we will wait a few weeks for that. She is super excited to have a caterpillar on her peg and drawer and will show anyone who comes to visit her 'starting Reception' booklet the school gave her telling her who's who and what she needs to bring. So no worries about her starting school right now.

It was however Little 1 that has had the wobbles about school recently. I thought being a sensitive soul she might be a little apprehensive about changing teachers as she was last year and again when her teacher left at Christmas. But I have to be honest and admit the extent of her worries took me quite by surprise.

Little 1 adores school and has done since the very start, she settled into reception really quickly, despite all her pre-school friends being put in a different class, and took to learning like a duck to water. She has excelled at reading, she loves to write and has bits of paper, stories and registers all over the house, I have had to buy her some folders to keep all of them in. For her birthday all she wants is a desk and lots of folders, pens and notepads and desk accessories so she can do more writing and drawing.

She has always been happy going to school and is popular and confident there with lots of good friends, at home she is a little more needy and sensitive but at school none of this shows as she bounces out smiling everyday telling me what she has been up to.

One night a few days ago she had gone to bed as usual, she often chats to herself for a while before falling asleep, and I was downstairs and thought I heard her crying so went to check on her. I found her quietly sobbing and it broke my heart to find her in bed unhappy, I got in with her and asked her what was wrong. First she told me a few little things that I knew weren't really what was bothering her but we chatted about them and then I asked her what was really bothering her and the floodgates opened. It was horrible to hear my girl crying so hard and it was several minutes before she was able to tell me what was wrong.

She was worried about moving up to year 2. 

I held her and we chatted as she told me her fears, she was scared that the Year 2 children are so big and she wouldn't know any of the children in Reception. She was worried that she wouldn't see her sister at playtime as lunchtimes are staggered due to space in the dining hall, that year 2 have a different playground to reception and year 1 and she wanted to be there if her sister fell over or needed a cuddle. She was worried as she didn't know much about her new teacher and who the classroom assistant was and that she would miss her old teacher.

How long had she had been worrying about these things and how could I make her feel better? I felt so sad that Little 1 was feeling this way.

For nearly an hour we talked as she sobbed and I attempted to allay her fears. As her school is an infant school year 2 are the eldest, I told her that she would be one of the oldest ones next year and had to promise her that she wasn't going to grow extraordinarily huge over the summer (some of year 2 are seriously tall all of a sudden). I reassured her whole class was moving together, her friends etc and that the Reception children would be new and unsure too. I told her to ask a dinner lady if she could cross the playground to see her sister and that she would see her in assembly and other places, I told her that her teacher is lovely (She has taught friend's children) and that she will get to know her teaching assistant as well as see her old teacher around the school. 

She went to sleep feeling worried but better and I sat and felt unsettled that my little girl was unhappy. The following morning I had a quick word with her teacher who offered to take Little 1 to her new class at break time to meet her teacher and have a chat. When Little 1 came out of school she felt better but was still rather worried.

The following day was moving up day where all children went to their new class for an hour and after school parents could go and meet the teacher and see the classroom. Little 1 was biting her nails as she stood akwardly in the classroom waiting for me to say hello to her teacher but after a good look around and a quick chat she seemed happy and there have since been no more tears and when I asked she said she felt happier. 

Hopefully she will not be too nervous come the end of the school holidays but that we will have to wait and see. God help us next year when she has to move up to juniors, that is a whole new school!

14 July 2016

Little 1 reviews... Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Little 1 is really showing a love for reading at the moment and having read Rent a Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson and liking the book she was looking forward to reading a new story by the same author that we had also been sent to read. 

This time it was the turn of 'Katy'. Taking inspiration from the classic novel 'What Katy did' Jacqueline Wilson has created a modern Katy for the twenty first century. In this story Katy Carr is the eldest of six, a daredevil, fun loving sister who likes nothing more than climbing on the garage roof, skateboarding and swinging in the trees but when an accident happens and disaster strikes, can Katy and her family overcome adversity and come out the other side together?

Immediately looking at this book it is longer and much harder to read than 'Rent a Bridesmaid', the words are smaller and the pages are full of writing with only pictures for the chapter markings. This book is aimed at the 7-9 year old age group but even with Little 1 being fab at reading I think it is more aimed at the end of the bracket and even older, especially considering the content.

The story starts off in usual Wilson style with fun and laughs following the storyline of Katy, living with her half and step siblings all trying to get along, poor Katy seems to always get into trouble even when she really is trying to be good. But then one day, when Katy is grounded following yet another incident, life takes a rather serious turn when an accident happens and Katy's life is turned upside down. From then on the story, still with funny bits, takes on a darker and more serious tone.

I have to be honest and say Little 1 and I started reading this book at bedtime on holiday and I tended to read the book to her rather than her read it as it was not an easy read. Late nights on holiday gave way to little time for tired girls bedtime stories and I continued to read the book by myself having not taken any reading matter of my own away with me. Little 1 did not ask for the book on return from holiday and after reading it myself I think I will hang on to it for a while and perhaps give it to her again when she is a little older.

Whilst the story was very well written, covering a difficult subject, the second half of the book was quite sombre and would have been difficult for Little 1 to understand and comprehend. There were also elements in the book that as a parent of an impressionable young girl I deemed inappropriate for the suggested age range.

As I read I noticed no less than 4 references to the characters referring to wanting to be thin or not wanting to eat. Early in the book one character says, when talking about what they want to be when they grow up, 'I want to stay quite thin, but much curvier, you know..'. At one point when Katy reaches her lowest following the accident and needing help with her personal care she stops eating and, one line reads 'You are not trying to starve yourself to death, are you?'.

Little 1 is nearly 7 years old and has no worries about her body image, she eats like a horse and is slim, fit and healthy. As a parent I did have to question whether these lines are really appropriate for young girls to read (considering the suggested age range for the book). Yes, a couple of them were within the parameters of the storyline and may have been glossed over by the child reading the book however surely the author could have gotten the point across without saying quite those words.

Overall the book was a good read covering a difficult and thoughtful subject however I felt it was more suited to an older child due to the content of the story.

N.B We were gifted our copy of this book for the purpose of review however all words and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

11 July 2016

Little 3 takes in the rockpools

If there is one thing the Little Ones love the most it is the beach, they could play for hours and hours in the sand digging and building sandy forts and castles. They love being at the water's edge, paddling and jumping waves although none of them has been brave enough to actually go in past their knees yet.

Days on the beach usually end up with the Little Ones driving home in underwear with a blanket and bare sandy toes because both sets of clothes and the swim suits got wet as they just had to go back for one last play, ice cream dried onto those happy little faces and straight up into a warm bath when we get home.

With our nearest beach from home being about 45 minutes away, our most recent trip to the beach was on holiday and it was an exciting event because it was Little 3's first proper beach trip. He has been to the beach several times before in the pushchair last summer when he was tiny and earlier in the holiday but he preferred to nap and didn't like the cold sea on his toes so we took him for a walk instead.

This time it was a bit chilly, leggings and t-shirt kind of weather and although some brave souls were out in their swim suits the girls kept their clothes on. There was a pretty nippy wind too as the tide was on the turn so we headed down to the beach with jumpers and wellies too. I knew that Little 3 would fall over a lot on the uneven sand having not been walking long and I wanted him to be free to explore without feeling cold and wet so we popped his wellies on too and his waterproof suit and off we went.

At first he wasn't really sure what to do and just kept stooping down to poke the wet sand and rub it with his fingers then offer me his hand to wipe it off, I am not sure he liked the gritty texture. Once he had done that for a while he found his feet and began to wander along the sand, run and fall over a lot which was quite funny as he obviously wasn't keen on touching the sand as he would sit there looking at you to come and stand him up again so that he didn't have to touch it.

We then led him down to the rook pools where the girls were busy with their nets attempting to catch some creatures but they were not having any luck, I think their technique needed a little practice as Little 2 was catching net fulls of sand and Little 1 was swishing wildly scaring off anything within a 5 metre radius!

Little 3 loved the rock pools, he was splashing around in his wellies and falling over getting soaked but he didn't mind, he thought it was great fun.

It was little 3 that found the wildlife on this beach trip! Suddenly when he was sat down a big crab came scurrying out from beneath him, I think he had sat on it. It was a pale green/white colour and we watched it bury itself a few feet away with his white back looking just like a pebble. It was brilliant camouflage. We captured him for the girls and soon found a few more knowing how they were hidden, I hadn't seen pale coloured crabs before, we had always caught dark ones. Again Little 3 seemed to send them scurrying as he splashed around and we soon had a bucket full.

Little 3 was pretty amused by the crabs trying to climb out the bucket and watched them for ages, he was so gentle and patient for a toddler while he stood there.

Soon it was time to go, just a quick trip this time at low tide as we had promised the girls we would find rock pools on holiday, we had managed to find some on our last day just a short distance from our caravan, phew. A change of trousers and back to the caravan for quick showers, while Nanny had gone in search of a fish and chip shop, then it was chips out on the caravan veranda, a lovely way to end our holiday.

We loved our holiday on the Isle of Wight and the girls are already asking when we can go back again, even though we have been twice now we have hardly seen anything of what the island has to offer, it is quickly becoming one of our favourite family places and I can see many a holiday there in the future.

8 July 2016

Little 1 reviews.. Tiger Days and the secret cat by Sarah Lean

Little 1 has been reading yet another book this week, this time it was the turn of 'Tiger Days and the secret cat' by Sarah Lean. The book is aimed at age 7+ and Little 1 has no trouble reading it. 

The book tells the story of Tiger, who absolutely loves tigers, surprisingly. When Tiger goes to spend the holidays with her grandma there is a surprise guest in the house who she really isn't sure about at first and what on earth is that noise coming from upstairs. With her friend Tom the pair put on their brave faces and tackle their challenges.

The illustrations throughout the book are lovely, pencil drawing type illustrations, their placement across the page is great as they kind of interweave and join the story together and drawing your eye to the relevant picture as you are reading. Little 1 loves the pictures and it is great that there are so many in this book as it gave her something to look at and imagine the story that little bit more.

Little 1 read the book herself and says. 'I liked the story, it was a bit scary when Tiger was waiting to see what was in the lift and I thought the bit where Monday is swimming in Grumps' pond was especially funny. I did think the story ended a bit suddenly though but I would still like to read the next one in the series.

N.B We were gifted our copy of this book for the purpose of review however all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

6 July 2016

Little 1 reviews.. The Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy

Last night I put a new book on Little 1's pillow while she was at school and totally forgot I had done it by the time I picked her up from school. I had sent her up to get changed after school and realised 20 minutes later she hadn't come back down, I called out and got no reply so dashed up the stairs to see if she was okay... and found her nose deep in 'The Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy. 

'Meet Dorothy Constance Mae Louise or Dot as she prefers to be called!'

'Dot loves super-sour apple sherberts, running fast and puzzles! And with the help of TOP DOG McClusky, she is always up for unravelling a mystery. So when someone seems set on sabotaging the school show, Dot is determined to find out how, and save the day.'

Well with a back cover like that and a 6 year old who barely grunted when I asked of she was okay as she was so engrossed in the story, you can guess what we thought of the book.

This book is perfect for 6 year olds, Little 1 could read it with ease (it didn't take long to get through either) and she loved the way it was written like a diary, lots of mini illustrations and 'photographs' that Dot had taken and popped in the pages too.

Little 1 says ' The story was funny, I loved the secret code Dot made up with her friend Beans and I liked all the pictures in the book too. I wanted to read the whole book straight away it to find out who was being sneaky.'

N.B We were gifted our copy of the book, all views and opinions in this post are our own honest thoughts.

4 July 2016

A new favourite read... Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar

Have you come across the multi-award winning children's book series 'Whimsy Wood' written by Sarah Hill and illustrated by Sarah Mauchline?

The Whimsy wood series is a collection of delightful stories aimed at 5-8 year olds. Last year we reviewed the 7th book in the Whimsy Wood series- Posie Pixie and the Pancakes and thought it was wonderful. Now book 9 of the series has just been released and this time, in the second set of 7 books in the collection, Fearne Fairy is about to make a new friend. 

This story follows the loveable character Ferne Fairy, as she makes her way home through the woods following a mishap in The Woodland Store. Fearne comes across a caterpillar in a rather sticky situation and rescues him, they can not help but become friends.

I love the way the book is written with playful alliteration, onomatopoeia and as Little 1 called it 'bouncy' language. The style of writing by the talented Sarah Hill literally makes the words jump off the page and the story come to life, the first time we read the story we delayed bedtime by 10 minutes as the girls 'just had to' hear the end of the story.

'' Flitter-Flutter, Flutter-Flitter went Fearne Fairy's tiny wings under her umbrella as she flew over the clumps of beautiful bluebells and vibrant violets that shimmered in the spring rain.''

Just like other books in the series Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar contains a few subtle morals and messages hidden within the tale, such as tidying up, being friendly and helping friends, which I liked.

The illustrations throughout the book are colourful and lovely, each book is set in a different month (This book is set in April) so the flora and fauna changes in the illustrations in each book as the seasons do too. Both girls loved the pictures, studying what was going on in them, working out which bit of the story they were relating to and and they also provided a talking point during the story as we spotted the cute little details. 

The talented author- Sarah Hill

We enjoyed reading this book, if you would like to read it, it can be purchased from Amazon or direct from the publisher Abela publishing where 10% of the profits from the book go to The Wildlife Trust.

N.B This was a collaborative post, however all words and opinions are our own honest thoughts.