Thursday, 16 August 2018

Building a Den with Save The Children

Is there anything more exciting when you are three and two than building a den under the dining room table? With big blankets and beanbags, Finn and Cora hid away from everyone else with some Beano stickers that were sent to us from Save the Children to celebrate their Den Day. 

Save the children have partnered with Beano with the aim of raising money for Save the Children's vital work.  Their Beano Build book is available from Sainsbury's with  step by step instructions to build four different diy projects.

You can have a den day whenever you like and download a free fundraising pack at which includes educational activities to help understand more about some of the challenges other children face around the world and how fundraising can help.  


The money raised by den-builders will make an enormous difference to Save the Children’s vital work.

* £33 could buy five sheets of tarpaulin to help provide shelter to families who have
* lost their homes in an emergency
* £75 could provide everything needed to run a reading club to help children learn literacy for a year
* £105 could buy a kit to help a family living as refugees to protect their shelters against the weather

Make sure you share photos of your dens by tagging #DenDay
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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Cora and her Baby

Cora's favourite toy is her 'baby'.  She loves carrying and cuddling baby, feeding her, putting her on the potty, putting her to bed and pushing her round in the buggy.  At playgroups I have found her putting her doll into the jumperoo and helping the doll press the buttons.  The boys have all had dolls but none of them have taking such a caring role with them as Cora.

Caring doesn't mean that she doesn't pick them up by the neck, and of course if she hears a biscuit wrapper opening in another room she will drop poor baby on its head in her rush to find out what is going on and why she isn't involved.  I bought her a few soft rag doll types but her favourite one is definitely her First Baby Annabell doll that we were sent a couple of months ago.  It is a typical baby doll designed for younger children with plastic limbs and head and a soft body so it is easy to change her outfit and move her. 

I love watching Cora breastfeed her dolls although when we are out in a waiting room somewhere and she tries to insist that I feed the doll I am less impressed.  I can see she is watching and learning and it definitely mirrors her life in some ways as her favourite thing at the moment is to sit baby on the toilet before she uses it. 

These photos are nothing special but I loved capturing her with her baby as they are now.  I think she will need a little sling next!  

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Saturday, 11 August 2018

The First Half of our Summer

I was worried about the first half of the summer.  The second half is full of plans and I know we will be busy (hopefully) having fun, but when the boys broke up from school in July the first three weeks were looking bare in the planner and I worried that I should have organised a bit more.  Halfway through now I am wondering whether what we should have scheduled in was more downtime.  We have had plenty of days out, lots of late nights at the beach, playdates with friends and camping adventures in the garden.  We have done so much close to home in the first three weeks that I think all six of us are pretty tired!

It is so easy to fill these six weeks in some ways and the warm weather makes it much cheaper than the other holidays with days at the beach and the park, picnics and playdates but I need to remember sometimes that you don't have to do much to have a great time.  Some of our favourite memories so far are from the times we were doing nothing.  Reading books together in bed, snuggling on the sofa watching a film and having bbqs in the back garden.  Our evenings at the beach when we venture down after dinner as it starts getting cooler will always be one of my favourite things.  Letting the last of the days energy out, jumping in the waves and making the most of the empty sand.  

Watching you all growing together, becoming closer but at the same time squabbling more than ever is a privilege. I see your relationships changing as you get used to each other full time again and I know that it is the downtime that does it, not the busy days out.  The next three weeks are full of adventures and I am so excited for them all, but I wanted to share a few photos from the last three weeks.  These aren't days I have blogged about, they are just little snapshots of our days that I don't want to forget.  My crazy tribe of children just being. 

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Thursday, 9 August 2018

VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2 Review

Dylan's favourite birthday present this year was his VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2.  VTech sent it to us to try out just before he turned 7 and so I wrapped it up for him to open on the day and he was so excited! This is Dylan's first watch and it is so much more than that.  After playing around with the home screen / watch interface that has more than 50 different styles, we started looking more at what the smart watch can do.

VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2, smart watch for kids, kids watch

There are two cameras, one pointing out the top and then a selfie cam on the front and the watch is now full of various photos of the boys.  You can take a normal photo or you can add frames or funny faces too.  It also takes videos and you can record sound for up to 60 seconds in one go.   Dylan has never had his own camera or anything similar yet so he is loving this feature.

VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2, smart watch for kids, kids watch

The watch also comes with three games that are really easy to play and suitable from about age 4 upwards (the same age suggestion for the watch).  They make for a great little activity for when you are waiting or have a few minutes to kill or if he needs some chill out time.

There is a built in pedometer which uses the motion sensor although it is the action challenge that really gets Dylan moving.  It gives him a steps challenge and when he achieves it he gets another one.  He was playing on the way down to the beach recently and ended up running in circles down at the beach desperate to get to the next target!

VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2, smart watch for kids, kids watch

As well as all this there is a stopwatch, calender, calculator and timer as well as the ability to link it to a computer and download other games.  The watch is brilliant fun and great at helping children learn to tell the time.  Dylan is seven and a great age for this although a couple of years younger and a little older would be good too.  The battery life is about one day if it is your new watch and you can't leave it alone and 2 weeks if you are just using it for telling the time, somewhere in the middle for everything else. It charges through a USB wire into a computer or plug socket.

VTech Kidizoom smart watch DX2, smart watch for kids, kids watch

You can find out more about the Vtech kidizoom smart watch DX2 on the Vtech website.  Dylan gives it a big thumbs up (when he stops playing on it) and I am really impressed too.
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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Nun Night Six Year Old

It was your last day as a six year old today and you cannot wait to wake up as a seven year old.  We have an exciting day out planned and we are taking two of your friends along which feels so much more grown up than a big party - quite fitting for the grown up boy you are becoming.

Six was the year you finished year two and said goodbye to infant school.  You are starting again as a seven year old somewhere new and you are so ready for the challenge.  Six was the year you grew so fast that I blinked and your t-shirts were hovering somewhere around your belly button.  It was the year your limbs seemed to shoot out,your proportions changing as you prepare for the next stage of growth.  I didn't really notice the changes until sports day when all the year two children seemed so gangly compared to the younger years and you most of all. 

This year you have found new interests, you have loved school and got so involved in your environmental superhero topic, becoming a campaigner for plastic bans and an avid recycler.  I have loved following your new interests, hearing you talk so animatedly about your topics and learning alongside you most of the time.   

You know your mind, you know societies expectations and you are not afraid to challenge them.  You understand that choosing something for the girls section is different, but you have the self confidence to do it anyway if that is what you like.  I hope you always stay you.

You are really into computer games now which I find a daily struggle as I would prefer you to spend less time looking at a screen.  All you have asked for this year for your birthday is Fortnite as all your friends are playing it and I don't feel ready to lose you into this world just yet! We are trying to find a good balance and you still love imaginative play and being in the garden.  You have pretty much left toys behind, but you play imaginative games with friends and your siblings using whatever you have on hand (often cuddly toys).  Your bedroom has become your 'base' and you still love sharing with your brother and wouldn't have it any other way.

As you turn six you are already over 130cm tall and are not showing any signs of slowing down.  You change your mind often about what you want to be when you grow up but today's answer was a footballer for Liverpool (You support Crystal Palace) and your most prized possession is your Pokemon cards. You aren't really into cuddles anymore, but I can still get one out of you sometimes and you love animals, especially sealife creatures, although you are still absolutely petrified of dogs.  

You have been a fantastic six year old and I can't wait to see what seven has in store.  I say it every year but it can't possibly be seven years since I was waddling to bingo, still convinced you were going to be overdue despite the regular twinges I was getting.  Tomorrow will make seven years since you entered the world as my superhero (quite literally with your hand first) and changed all of our lives.  You continue to change me and make me a better person and I love you with everything I have.

Sleep tight my gorgeous six year old, for tomorrow is a big day 

Love Mummy xxxxxx
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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Me and Mine in July

I had left it until the last minute to take the photos for this anyway - 6pm on the 31st July and I thought as we left the soft play centre where we had spent the afternoon we could balance my phone on the buggy and take a quick snap of us all.  Apparently a nasty wasp had another idea and poor Cora got stung on her finger.  There were so many wasps around that we rushed back into the car and not knowing whether all four children were going to make it home awake, we decided a family car selfie would have to do.  I haven't yet missed a month since we started this journey and today was not going to change that.

So our photos aren't great but here we are, last minute, stung fingers, sweaty faces (the kids) and huge eye bags (the parents).  Our July has been brilliant and totally emotional with the end of school and everything that comes with it and the start of the six week summer holidays.  It has been ridiculously hot and one of my biggest achievements this month has been keeping the sunflowers that the kids planted alive.  August is going to be full of adventures but before it begins, we need to look back at the month of July

This month I have loved late nights at the beach, watching Dylan's leavers play, swimming in the English sea and turning off my alarm.

Ed has loved his Dyson fan (not a fan of the heat), seeing Flight of the Concords, our niece's birthday and getting a shiny new phone.

Dylan has loved his school sleepover, going sno tubing at his friend's birthday party, counting down until his birthday and having more time to chill out at home.

Archie has loved having his friends over to play in the holidays, seeing The Incredibles 2 at the cinema, a day out in London without the little two and playing computer games.

Finn has loved water fights in the garden, discovering the wonders of surprise eggs being opened on YouTube, wearing his snowman top at any opportunity and having his big brothers around to play with more.

Cora has loved calling everyone a Poo poo bum, singing sleeping bunnies and the Happy Birthday song, jumping on the trampoline and getting ice lollies every day in the heat!

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Monday, 30 July 2018

Free Play with Petits Filous

This week, Archie brought a friend home from school.  He came in and asked what we had to play with him.

“What is your favourite toy at home?” I asked him

“Well I really love cardboard boxes” he replied and just like that I felt more positive about the future.  Giving my children the option to free play is really important to me and their imaginations will be the ones changing the world.  

Mine have screen time (too much I should probably admit), swimming lessons and after school club every week but we try and make sure that they have opportunities to play free every day, to leave behind the structure of nursery and school and expectations of learning and just run with whatever comes in to their heads.  They are encouraged to just be, without any input from me, so they can find their own games.

Free Play is exactly that. . . free.

It doesn’t require expensive props or toys, it doesn’t even require your time or input.  As a child I remember turning the coffee tables upside down and making them into hutches with my siblings so we could be bunnies.  My children love transforming things that have been earmarked for the recycling bin and a cardboard box and some Petits Filous yoghurt pots are always staples.  Finn will without a doubt request I make him a car and he and Cora drive all over the place in it, taking turns to drive and push each other round. Dylan usually prefers crafting something himself but he isn’t yet too big to get stuck in with the toddlers’ games and he loves to steer the play in new ways.  They free play alone, in pairs and every now and again all four together.

Sometimes I watch them, listen to their language evolving, witnessing them problem solving and embracing their imaginations.  I think offering them the opportunity to free play every day is one of the most important things I can do as a parent and I am hoping my children continue having the capacity to just play for many more years.  Today’s innovators are those that can step away from what we already know and can access that free space in their mind where they can imagine the future.

Petits Filous have researched the importance of Free Play and teamed up with Amazon Pantry to encourage more children to create and imagine.  You can even get technology involved with Alexa! Simply ask Alexa to ‘Open Petits Filous’ to add sound effects and another dimension to their play.

This summer we are going to encourage the children to be bored because once they push past boredom, they become creative, they play free and they grow their imaginations! You can find out more over on the Petits Filous facebook page

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