Showing posts with label Archie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archie. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Reading Eggs Review

Dylan is back at school tomorrow and Archie won't be long behind him, although their school waits another week and a half before the reception class begins.  We then have two weeks of part time hours and it will be October before I have two boys in full time school.  Archie is so ready for it, his brain and his body need something more and he can't wait to queue up outside the purple class door.

We discovered Reading Eggs at the beginning of the summer, but it is now as we prepare the boys to stimulate their minds in different ways again that we are really making the most of it.  The website is aimed at children from 2 to 13 years and consists of fun activities that help them learn.  The boys aren't allowed on the tablets or laptops often so they consider anything on there a treat and they have been really enjoying the reading eggs challenges.


Archie has started the 3-7 year old program on lesson 1 as we haven't really don't much phonics with him yet.  He is hurtling through these early levels though, picking up skills as he goes and it has been great to watch his concentration grow as sitting still is something he really struggles with.  The levels are just the right length that he can concentrate for one and then he needs a run around. The program is easy for him to follow without my help as everything is read aloud and it works really well on my touch screen laptop.


Dylan took a proficiency test at the beginning as he has just turned six and already has a good base of knowledge.  He started just a couple of lessons short of finishing the 3-7 year old section and is now ready to begin the next stage. The lessons are challenging him without being too difficult and are perfect for him to do independently.  Being that little bit older he can do two in a row with ease and he has been enjoying doing something academic before diving in to year two on Wednesday. 


As a parent, I like how Reading Eggs fits in perfectly with what they are learning at school, and it is used in many schools all over the country.  I can see their 'reading age' and offer them a fun way to learn alongside school and during the holidays.  I want the children to enjoy being at home and I like the fact their small school doesn't really give out homework, but this is a fun game for them and I don't think they really notice how much they are learning at the same time.


I think once Dylan and Archie are both at school, we will try out the toddler section with Finn as he hasn't really used technology much before and I think he will enjoy something different.  


 You can currently get a 5 week free trial (if you join before the end of September) and you don't have to put in any credit card details either.  If you want to test out the junior edition then click here instead
 .  We are really impresssed with it and I am hoping it keeps Archie occupied for the long two month ahead before he starts school full time.


Collaborative post
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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

5 Steps for Starting School

My second born baby is about to start school for the first time, and there is so much I wish I knew the first time around.  Starting school is such an exciting and nerve wracking time and with September right around the corner, I have written our five steps for starting school.

5 steps for starting school, startrite school shoes

- Get them feeling positive about school

A lot of how they react is down to how we do as parents, so speaking about school with positive language, sending them in for taster days where they can experience all the fun they will be having and even buying books about starting school can help them see it as the next big adventure.  Dylan loves school and it has helped Archie look forward to it hearing his brother so enthusiastic about learning.

- Teach them the life skills

Schools expect pupils to be independent in many ways they may not be used to and every teacher I have spoken to says the important things to teach them before September are not letters or numbers, but how to dress themselves, how to put on their own shoes and how to eat with a knife and fork.  The teachers are more trained than us in academics, but they aren't able to individually help 30 children get ready for a P.E lesson.

5 steps for starting school, startrite school shoes

- Buy the uniform

We made the mistake of thinking Dylan may get a couple of days wear out of a polo shirt before it needed a wash.  I now know better, I now know how messy a four year old can be eating lasagne, how badly marker pens stain and how dirty a reception year child manages to get at the end of every day.  We now have five complete sets of uniform for him and we will get the same for Archie.


- Find the perfect school shoes

Everyone has a different opinion on where the best school shoes come from and we have been sent these two pairs from Startrite ahead of the new school year.  Archie's have a large rubber front which I think he will need as it should protect them from scuffs and both pairs are velcro (essential unless your child can tie laces themselves).  I am really impressed with how they look and feel and I have high hopes for the year.

5 steps for starting school, startrite school shoes

- Let them go

This is the toughest step, I still remember sobbing as I dropped Dylan off on his first day.  He loved every minute though, his teacher was fantastic and caring and he is growing and learning and so interested in everything.  Archie is ready for school in so many ways and my last step to helping him settle in is to let him go.



If you have a little one about to start school, are you feeling ready?







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Friday, 18 August 2017

Two in School with Pep and Co

There are only three weeks until I have two school boys.  Archie will be joining his big brother at our local infant school and he can't wait.  He had outgrown the nursery by the time he left and he is excited for the new challenges, although I think once he remembers that it is everyday he may change his mind.  Archie has the same teacher that Dylan had in his first terms and I think she is going to be in for a shock.

Two school boys means two sets of uniform, two little blue book bags, two pairs of smart black shoes and two to get out the door on time five mornings a week.  School uniform can get really expensive and we are very impressed with these bits from Pep and Co which are ridiculously cheap.

pep and co school uniform, poundland uniform

It took me £3.20 each child AND a kinder egg to bribe them into their school uniform in the middle of the holidays and they then refused to take it off for the rest of the day.  The polo shirts start at £1, the trousers from £3 and the jumpers from £2.  Archie could buy his trousers and polo with the money I paid him and still have change!

poundland school uniform, pep and co clothing

pep and co school uniform, cheap school uniform

Of course no amount of money would actually persuade them to stay still or pull a nice smile for the camera, so I have funny thumbs up and some zombie poses. The trousers look a little long on both boys so definitely don't size up unless you are happy to turn them up as well. I am hoping the boys finish their growth spurt by early September so that these fit a little better. 

pep and co school uniform, uniform from poundland

The trousers have an adjustable waist which is good news for those with slim kids like Archie and the polo shirts have a really great fit.  Pep and Co have expanded their range and many items are 100% cotton as well as having  Teflon® and Always Smart® technology in the fabrics to make them easy care.  As I know all too well what a white polo shirt looks like after a 4 year old has eaten a school lunch in it, this is excellent news!


With the Pep and Co uniform you can definitely get More for Less which is going to make the sting of four after school clubs a bit easier (we have been letting Dylan pick two each term so Archie will get to do the same).  It is available in 289 Pep and Co stores including selected Poundland stores.  You can find your nearest store here







 This post is in collaboration with Pep and Co
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Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Ordinary Moments // Settling in Sessions

There are only 6 more sessions of nursery and then he has finished, for the summer, forever.  Next September Archie will be joining his big brother at school and he is pretty excited.  This week we had the final one of his three settling in sessions and I left him in his classroom for two hours.

The first two sessions involved me sitting in the hall listening to the head teacher and other members of staff and PTFA talking to us about the school and what to expect whilst Archie went off to his new classroom for an hour.  This final one was two hours though and I dropped him off and left the school.  

Archie never wavered, never looked back and I think (I hope) September will be just the same.  Unlike his brother who only turned 4 a month before he started school, Archie will be four and a half and that bit more ready.  I heard others speak of the boredom when Dylan was coming towards the end of preschool, but with a summer born baby I never really understood.  With my February son I get it though.  Archie seems to have outgrown preschool in many ways, he seems bored, ready for the next stage and I think school will challenge and encourage him in the right ways.

I didn't feel nearly as emotional when I dropped him.  I remember the worry with Dylan, counting down until I could collect him and constantly checking the time.  With Archie it felt easier and I don't know if it is because he is the second baby, or because he is that bit older, but we both enjoyed the session.


That was the last session until September now.  We need to buy uniform, shoes and a schoolbag and I know the time will fly until this baby boy of mine will be joining his big brother in the school playground at 9am.
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Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Future Biker // Kiddimoto Balance Bike Review

Archie has pretty much got his future sorted - he is going to ride a motorbike, never wear clothes and of course he is going to be hulk smash - that is a given.  He is a free spirit, a wild one, the most affectionate, the biggest daredevil and a little sweetie as well as being a future super-hero apparently.  The boys have spent many an hour planning their futures and one thing that doesn't change, is that Dylan will drive a car and Archie will ride a motorbike.

It seems crazy that Archie has spent 4 years as a future biker without owning an actual bike but Kiddimoto fixed that with their rather cool skulls balance bike and matching helmet.  Archie is a speed machine on his scooter so I was interested to see how he would take to the bike.  It took a while to persuade him to wear a helmet but with some encouragement from his best friend he finally put it and then insisted on wearing it all through dinner too.

wooden balance bike, Kiddimoto, learning to ride a bike

There was pride in his face as he whizzed off and he has only improved since, getting quicker and more confident.  The wooden bike is aimed at children between 3 and 5 years and the seat has different heights which we have since adjusted to make it a little higher for our four year old.  Archie just loves the cool pirate design.  We are lucky to live right on the coast which means there are wonderful long expanses of flat biking ground and a few slopes too - perfect for future motorbikers to practice.



I think that balance bikes are such a great introduction for children to help them gain balance and confidence and once Archie moves on to a pedal bike we will be lowering the seat on this and getting it ready for Finn - it feels so solidly made that I am hoping it lasts for Cora as well.

Kiddimoto make a few different styles of balance bikes, some more metallic and like a traditional pedal bike and these wonderful wooden 'Kurve' ones which include a police design, butterflies and an awesome Union Jack design.  I love the Heroes range too which really do look like little motorbikes.

kiddimoto wooden balance bike, skulls balance bike

wooden balance bike, kiddimoto

I love these photos below because of the look of pride and excitement on his face.  Check out the Kiddimoto website to see the full range of bikes and accessories.

kiddimoto, balance bike, wooden balance bike




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Monday, 3 April 2017

Dear Zoo Trail at London Zoo

On Saturday we were invited to the launch of the new Dear Zoo trail at London Zoo.  To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the childhood classic book by Rod Campbell, ZSL and Macmillan books have created a trail around the zoo where children can collect stamps for all the classic Dear Zoo characters.  

Dear Zoo was one of the first books we bought when Dylan was little and I think we all know all the words now.  I took Archie and Cora with me for our trip to the zoo as Dylan and Finn were both ill and we loved following the trail and finding the stamps for the animals that were too fierce, too jumpy and too grumpy to become pets.

We were really excited to meet Rod Campbell and listen to him read Dear Zoo to the children.  We loved the special birthday cakes and Cora got to wear her Dear Zoo dress (M&S did a lovely range last year).  

dear zoo trail, London Zoo, dear zoo at ZSL London zoo,

The elephants are currently at ZSL Whipsnade rather than ZSL London so our card came pre stamped with the 'too big' box, but the rest of the stations were located by their animal and the children could do the stamps themselves.  The Dear Zoo theme extends around the park and the restaraunts sell themed kids meals as well as having decorations baring the famous giraffe.  It made our visit to the zoo even more special and Archie was so proud to complete his card.  

dear zoo cakes, dear zoo at London zoo



giraffes, London zoo

dear zoo trail at London zoo, London zoo, dear zoo trail


As well as enjoying the trail, we loved the new Land of the Lion area which transported us into the heart of India with a colourful hands-on exhibit surrounding the mighty (and far too fierce) animals. Archie and his friend T loved playing in the vehicles, trying to pedal the bikes and exploring the different areas. 

The zoo is brilliantly designed to keep children occupied and we could break up discovering animals with areas like Land of the Lion to discover, parks to play in and plenty of space to run around. 

land of the lions, London zoo

land of the lions, zsl London zoo

dear zoo trail, london zoo

dear zoo trail, London zoo, ZSL London

The Dear Zoo trail is on from April 1st to April 17th at ZSL London and is included free with your ticket price.  We had the most wonderful (and exhausting) day.
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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The End of Winter

Somehow Winter always seems like the longest season.  I know that just like Spring, Summer and Autumn it lasts for three months, but when those months are cold, wet and usually full of snot, it can seem to drag.  Spring is on the horizon and the temperature seems to be picking up already so we have been busy enjoying it.

The beach is my favourite place to go, I love the space, the smell, the freedom, how it soothes my soul.  At this time of year it is pretty much deserted, but it still holds so much beauty, it still captures my children's attention for hours and we still come home with that sand in our socks, glow on our cheeks feeling that makes me think of the summer.  


There are things I love about each season and as Spring begins, I am looking forward to being outdoors more, rediscovering our favourite places, not coming home until dinner time because it is still light, shedding our coats and some of those layers and moving more freely, the beautiful yellows and greens that are suddenly appearing in the parks, bringing my Saltwater sandals back out and painting my toenails pretty colours.  

Winter is ending and I will miss the warmth of walking into a heated house after an outdoor stroll, the excuse to drink hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows every night, snuggling under blankets on the sofa and watching the frost settling on the windows. 


This was the Winter that Cora learned to sit, that she tried her first taste of food.  It was the winter Finn started sleeping better and putting more words together.  It was the Winter that Archie turned 4 and grew tall enough to press the buzzer at preschool.  It was the Winter that Dylan got his confidence in the water and wrote all his own Christmas cards.  I am excited to see what Spring will bring.









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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Before you turn Four



At three you can still be considered a toddler, but Archie, when you wake up you will be four and I will have to admit that that phase of your life has passed.  The countdown to school has began and you are ready for it in so many ways.  Really, you stopped being a toddler quite a while ago but behind the excitement of each new stage, I am reluctant to let go of the last one.


Three was the year we cut off your beautiful hair and I cried real tears in the middle of the hairdressers.  I have found peace with your new style and it suits you.  You are never mistaken for a girl anymore, it doesn't get in your face as you run and hair washes are so much easier.  It was the right choice (I will begrudgingly admit) but I did love your long blonde locks.

Every year you change so much and I can see quite how much you have grown since I wrote to you one year ago.  You are still exactly the same though, unapologetically you, determined, loyal, loving and wild.  I wrote as you turned two about how you were happier with your brother around and that is still true - you fit in perfectly in our big family, a playful little brother and a loving big one.  You and Dylan are the best of friends (although you fight like only brothers can), you and Finn are becoming real playmates now and you are so caring with Cora.  I look at the photos from the day before you turned one and I still recognise those expressions, that you.


You are happiest naked and have refused to wear any form of pyjamas or clothes around the house for a while now.  You have no problem snuggling under a blanket with me though, warming your icy feet on my skin and cuddling in close.  You still love to cuddle and I have to admit you give the best cuddles.  You can cheer me up in seconds with you arms around my neck and I dread the day you stop wanting to be so close. 

Your imagination has really developed this year, you talk absolute nonsense sometimes and you and Dylan are often in your own world together.  I love listening at your door after I put you to bed as you stay up and chat and watching you playing with your Lego, singing made up songs as you do.  This imagination did lead to the 'Mystery bandit' in our house who was responsible for all kinds of mischief and was never seen at the same time as you.  He has thankfully gone now although things are still blamed on him (by all members of the family).


As a three year old you became a big brother (again) and took it all in your stride as you always do.  You are wonderful with Cora and she is a lucky little girl to have you as a big brother.

At three you were bright, sociable, loving, energetic and bold.  You have learned to concentrate on things a little better, sit still a little longer, climb a little higher and communicate a little clearer.  I can't wait to see what adventures four has in stock for you.

Before you turn four, as I kiss you goodnight for the last time as my three year old, I just want you to know how truly loved you are


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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My Boys


With only ten weeks to go (ish) until we add a sixth member to our team, that feeling of the end that is so familiar now has arrived.  I remember during my first pregnancy trying to get my head around the fact that things would change beyond anything I could possibly imagine and I spent those final weeks with my friends, going out in the evenings (and treating myself to an orange juice), going for long walks, going out for dinner and enjoying my social life.

When I was pregnant with baby number two, I couldn't possibly comprehend how I could fit a second little baby in my life and those 10 weeks were spent enjoying everything about my first born, living life at his pace, letting my newly mobile toddler walk, as we had nowhere to be, there was no rush and nobody but us.

During my third pregnancy, I wanted to make the most of me-time, and I went to the cinema at least once a week as I remembered all to well how little personal space you get with a baby around.  I went for walks on my own along the sea front in the evenings, sat in the hairdressers and just enjoyed peace whenever I could find it, as three was set to be loud, chaotic and always busy.

This time I have realised that the weeks with 'my boys' are soon to be over, there will be a little girl on our team, and everything will change all over again.  These boys have been a three for 14 months, they have such beautiful bonds, they are learning and growing together and they are just wonderful to watch.  My focus will shift, I will be more outnumbered than ever, and I will have to stop saying 'my boys' and start saying 'my children' or 'my family' when I refer to them all.

It seemed to hit as I turned 30 weeks, it is a milestone week and these photos make me a bit emotional.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have three amazing little boys in my life.  To be the one that gets to wake up to their smiles each morning, and tuck them up in bed with a story and a song each night.  I get to watch them grow into the men they will become, nurture friendships with each other, learn alongside one another and be a little team.

These next ten weeks are about them, about making memories, about getting out together, exploring and observing, because I love to just watch them.  I want to have adventures that are easier without a new baby in tow,  I want to capture them as they are now, whilst it is just the three of them, I want to prepare them for a sister without making them wish away the present, because the present is pretty awesome right now.  











These photos are from the weekend and they may be my favourite ever, they capture so much of who they all are, they capture them together, they were in their element, outdoors, exploring, having adventures and you can see that in their smiles, in the way they are so relaxed.  I took my camera out only a couple of times, I wanted some special photos of  'my boys' as they are now, but the rest of the time I got stuck in with them all, I searched for the Gruffalo and got excited when we found the snake's log pile house.  I squelched in the mud, marveled at sticks, and came home with muddy feet.






It feels so strange that my time with just these boys is numbered, that things are going to change all over again, the dynamic, the pace of life, the size of my heart, and whilst I am confident we will adapt and find space and it will soon become our new normal, I am excited for the final 10 weeks, our final adventures just as we are and that I get to watch them just as a three for a little longer.





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