28 February 2017

The day we met a mermaid

Over half term we were looking for somewhere indoors to go for a day out, the weather was predicted to be cold and wet and with three children to entertain we simply had to get out of the house. I spotted an advert for a Mermaid themed week at Bristol Aquarium and thought the girls would enjoy it especially my mermaid mad Little 2.

After being shocked about the price of public  parking near the aquarium we parked in a park and ride on the outside of the town and headed in on the bus. While Little 3 and I rode downstairs with the pushchair, the girls and Daddy sat up on the top deck, I could hear them chatting excitedly and pointing things out on the way, the bus stopped right outside the aquarium which was very handy.

Being half term there was lots on to entertain the Little Ones, hand feeding the big fish, plenty of daily talks, the opportunity to meet a mermaid and hear sea stories as well as a crafting session with her.

The girls were really interested in watching the stingrays which came right up to the glass and poked their little noses out of the water. They were desperate to touch them but knew that they were not allowed. We stayed in that area for rather a long time as they watched, chatting to each other about what they could see and what they knew about sea creatures.

Little 2 sat on a ledge and watched the fish swimming without saying a word for absolutely ages. I have no idea what she was thinking about, or if she was just mesmerised but she was happy just to be there watching those fish.

Little 3 liked wandering around and touching all the tanks, trying to climb on the rocks and spotting fish. At almost two he doesn't yet have the attention span of the girls and so it was great to find boxes of books dotted around the aquarium which kept him occupied while the girls were still looking and also while the talks were on.

At lunchtime was went to see what the cafe had to offer having just brought some fruit and water along with us. They only did sandwiches and drinks which were really rather pricy for a family of 5 so, as we could come and go with our tickets valid all day, we popped out and found a newsagents nearby with yummy sandwiches that we ate by the quay and saved ourselves quite a lot.

We all liked the way the aquarium was set out with tanks along a meandering board walk and a waterfall downstairs, then there were places for the children to pop up inside a tank (Little 1 loved watching the seahorses there for a bit here) and have a look at rock pool creatures. 

There was a large tank with a bridge where we peered into the shallows at the sides and watched snoozing sharks and a big tunnel going underneath where the girls watched pufferfish and made faces at them in the hope that they would puff up (they didn't).

The girls were keen to attend the mermaid craft session and today they were making pearly sea bracelets. The girls were given some colourful pretty beads, macaroni and elastic to create themselves a bracelet which they enjoyed doing.

But the best bit of all, and the reason you probably came to read this post, was that there was a 'real' mermaid that the girls could meet there too. She chatted to the girls and asked them a few questions about their favourite sea creature, posed for a picture and gave out stickers. Little 2 went really shy and didn't say a word but she really enjoyed meeting her.

We enjoyed our day out, on the way home we asked the girls what had been the best bit of the day and although meeting the Mermaid and seeing the fish ranked highly, the best bit of all was apparently riding on the top deck of the park and ride bus!!

23 February 2017

The one where Mummy gets a job!

Well in the last few weeks there has been a whole lot going on here at Loving Life with Little Ones as I have gone from being a full-time Stay-at Home-Mum to working part time and it all happened a bit quickly.

In my recent post, 'time for a change' I spoke about feeling a little bit lost having been just Mummy for the past 5 and a bit years. I decided that the time had come to think about returning to work and I signed myself up to do a Teaching Assistant course later this year as this was something I had been thinking of doing for quite a while. In order to do the course you have to be volunteering or working in a school so I began to think about looking for a job in a few months, in time for September. 

A week or so later I found out about a TA job going at a school nearby, I thought about it briefly and then dismissed the idea almost immediately, Little 3 wasn't even two yet and I didn't like the idea of having to send him into childcare when I actually didn't really need to go back to work until September. But it kept popping into my mind, it was only a few hours a week so not a large amount of time for Little 3 to be away from me, the hours meant I could still do the school runs for the girls and the experience combined with my qualifications would mean I could definitely go straight onto the higher level diploma Teaching Assistant course which I wanted.

After pondering some more and enquiring further I decided to just go for it thinking the interview experience (if I got that far) would be good and filling in the application form would give me a nudge to get all my certificates together and update my CV. So I applied and the rest as they say is history, I got the job.

There was only one thing I needed to sort out before I could start, childcare for Little 3. The intention had been for him to go to the nursery at the girls school when I went back to work, he has had his name down since they opened it last year to start this Easter for a few hours and then take up more sessions in September so I popped my head in and asked about spaces but they are totally and utterly full (not even space for him to start at Easter, though I don't know when they were going to tell me that). All the local nurseries were too far for the girls to walk to to be practical (as Daddy has the car for work) and so the search for a childminder was on... 

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!