Thursday 31 August 2017

Me and Mine August

August has been the busiest month of the year by a long way.  This month we have had all four at home every day, we have been camping together at our first family festival, Dylan turned 6, I turned 30 and we moved house.  We ending the month absolutely exhausted but with lots of brilliant memories.  Thankfully the lovely Hannah at Childcare Adventures offered to take a photo of us all whilst we were at Wilderness as we have completely forgotten to take any others this month!

This month Mummy has been loving planning how the new house will look, a birthday evening out with friends, dressing Cora in little dresses now that she is walking and sunny afternoons at the beach.

Daddy has been loving folk week festivities, seeing Two Door Cinema Club at Wilderness, having space for a home office and Jack Daniels cider

Dylan has been loving turning 6, picking apples from the garden, reading Horrid Henry books and ice cream.

Archie has been loving having a big garden to play in, bouncing on the world's biggest bouncy castle, riding his balance bike everywhere and kinder surprises.

Finn has been loving playing chase with Cora, the excuse to be naked whilst it is warm and summer still, dancing to the music at Wilderness and chips and nuggets.

Cora has been loving walking everywhere, carrying shoes around everywhere she goes, her new water bottle and playing with the ice cream truck toy.

We are hoping September is quieter as I will be sending two boys into school.  I am not ready to say goodbye to the summer just yet though.
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Monday 28 August 2017

Our New Home

We have been in our new home for one week now.  It was never the plan to move just yet, I thought we had a couple more years in our old house, but somehow the desire for somewhere a bit bigger got to us and we ended up with a moving date right in the middle of the summer holidays.  In some ways it has been great as the disruption of moving, the lack of structure for those couple of days and the lack of curtains for a couple more haven't affected the children as much.  In other ways it has been twice as stressful as there is very little that can be done whilst occupying four small people.

We still haven't quite finished moving everything and there is a lot of unpacking to be done still.  I am waiting on furniture deliveries and I think there will be cardboard boxes lining the walls for at least a couple more weeks.  We need to paint Cora and Finn's bedroom before we can move them in and our room is still in need of curtains ( there is a duvet cover hanging in the window at the moment in an effort to keep the light out).

Moving has been challenging for us all.  The boys have coped amazingly on the outside with it all, revelling in the extra space and the fact we now have a garden.  On the inside they have been more emotional, more challenging and we can see that they need time to adjust.  Cora has taken it all in her stride, but she is waking up much more than usual through the night.

We haven't had wi-fi all week and so I haven't been online as much and I haven't taken as many photos as usual, but there are a few here, to document the early days in our new home.  With it being the end of August, the children have been making the most of their new garden and they are often out there from the moment they get up until it is time to bring them in for bed.  They helped Daddy to mow the lawn and we got out the paddling pool (that I had bought to be a birthing pool but never used) in the later half of the week.

We discovered that our garden has apple and pear trees as well as blackberry bushes, and it also has a friendly cat that likes to come and hang out with us.  We have named her 'fluffy fish' and all four love following her around.  We get foxes in the garden too which they are all quite fascinated by.

It has been a busy week but this empty shell of a house is slowly starting to feel like our home.  I can't wait to decorate it more, arrange our possessions and create a space that we love to be in.

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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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Monday 21 August 2017

Wilderness as a Family-Friendly Festival

Ed and I met many years ago at a festival and ever since we have talked about going back to one with the children.  We were looking online at the best family friendly options and discovered Wilderness festival, set in Oxfordshire.  Looking on the website it seemed to be a really family friendly festival so we booked six tickets and hoped for the best.  Neither of us had been camping other than at festivals pre-children but we were excited to try something new with the kids.

Wilderness, family friendly festival, Tootsa macginty

Wilderness has its own family camping area which was fantastic.  Everyone was really respectful and kept the site clean and the evenings were quiet and calm which made settling our four much easier. It was a short walk from the campsite to the main arena and as soon as you entered, the children's area was in front of you.

family friendly festival, Wilderness festival

We spent large periods of our weekend at the children's area, the bigger boys loved the circus skills area where they could learn to walk the tightrope, balance on stilts, hula hoop and more.  There were dressed up staff helping them every step of the way and when the props were put away, it was only because a show was about to begin.  The shows were fantastic for children three and over I would say, they were funny, engaging and the audience was always participating.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival

Next to the stage was a craft tent where the children could make playdough creations, design glitter art or create a festival skirt (Dylan made a ninja skirt) with strips of mesh and elastic.  The tent was manned and completely free and there was so many resources.  The kids area also had specialist shops selling animal tails, all manner of bubbles and bubble related equipment and a mini theatre.  We went to an 80s sing a long session at the theatre and the children sat at the front colouring in pictures of Dolly Parton and Prince.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

All three boys loved the rides, especially the helter skelter in the children's area but of course you go to a festival to listen to music, and they loved this side of it too.  We watched lots of singers and bands and they really enjoyed it.  During the day there was space to dance around and in the evening the atmosphere was brilliant.  We found that lots of families congregated together around the main stage which made a little family area.

festival wagon, Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

We bought a wagon before we went and I would highly recommend them if you are taking children to a festival.  We bought ours from Amazon and it was strong enough to carry all four when they got tired in the evenings.  During the day they would take it in turns to nap in there and we filled it with blankets and coats.  It definitely took the stress out of the weekend as they could all rest as much as they needed.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, festival wagon

Our experience of festivals before Wilderness was very different to this weekend and until you have children I don't think you notice how much fun they can be through children's eyes.  I think we picked a great first festival for them all as there was so much to keep everyone entertained.  

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

A little more practical information

We managed to spend quite a bit of money whilst we were there as the food was quite expensive.  There was only one stall offering a kids size portion (a meatball and some pasta for £4) but there was a huge variety of food and the boys loved trying all the food.  As a general guide you would pay around £8 for a meal and £4 for a portion of chips.  Mr Whippy ice creams were £3-£4.  We took our own reusable water bottles and there were plenty of places we could fill these up for free, both on the campsite and in the arena.  You could also cook on the campsite (and many families did) so we will definitely think about investing in a little stove for next time.

We stuck mostly to the free activities like the circus skills and craft tent as well as the music, but there were plenty of workshops you could pay for (they weren't practical with four small ones).  The rides cost around £3 per go and a child under 3 needs an adult with them on the helter skelter (another £3). 

The toilets were kept clean and well stocked, but we struggled to find anywhere to change a baby despite the website claiming baby changing facilities were available. so mostly used our own mat in the tent and a blanket in the wagon.  

The music was on from around midday until 10pm and you could definitely hear the arena from the campsite (we were situated closer to the arena than the car park).  It was quite muted though and we had no problem getting the children to sleep, in fact I think they found the background noise quite comforting.  The family campsite had stalls selling coffee, breakfasts and snacks and a welfare area with a section for lost children.  The wristbands we were given as our entry ticket had space to write a parent's phone number on so that if one went missing, the parents could be found (somehow we didn't manage to lose any of ours!).

Despite the on and off rain all weekend, it really wasn't that muddy, but of course the children found the one muddy area and got completely stuck in (and just stuck).

I took a lot of photos so here are some more from our first family-friendly festival experience

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, Hatley raincoat

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, Hatley raincoat

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

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Sunday 20 August 2017

What the Boys Wore // Deichmann Sandals

Last summer, Dylan refused to take off his socks.  He decided that sandals were the most uncomfortable things ever, and he would be wearing socks and trainers throughout the hot weather.  Living by a beach, this wasn't particularly practical but he made it work, and Archie mostly copied him.  This year I was determined to get them all in Sandals, so I spent £100 buying them all lovely blue ones (matching) but after the first wear all three declared their hatred and went back to their trainers.

Deichmann sandals, Deichmann boys shoes

Deichmann offered the boys the chance to pick some sandals from their summer range and I was hopeful that we may make it to our summer holiday with summer feet.  I helped them choose and we went for closed toes for Finn and Dylan and two straps for Archie. Due to some slight mis-packing, we ended up taking only their sandals away with us and thankfully, it went perfectly!

All three boys love their sandals and have been wearing them all summer.  Dylan has learned to ride a bike in his and we have been thankful that we went for the closed toe.  They fit very much like trainers but are more breathable and incredibly comfortable if they pass his seal of approval.

Finn has been running, jumping and climbing in his.  I prefer him in flexible soles and we have found this design works well for him.  The closed toe has protected his feet and he has been wearing these every day.  The only choices left in Archie's size when we visited the store were strapped sandals, but Archie is happiest in these as he seems to get hotter than his brothers.  He has ridden his balance bike, explored, climbed and played in them comfortably.

All three pairs together come in at just over £40 and they are perfect for my little explorers. The boys want to wear them (which is very important) and I feel like their feet are well protected.  Thank you to Deichmann for helping to get them out of their trainers this summer!

Deichmann kids shoes, closed toe sandals

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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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Thursday 17 August 2017

Aveeno Baby

Last month we were invited up to London for a baby yoga session with AVEENO®. I have never tried baby yoga before (or even adult yoga to be honest) and I was curious as to how easy it would be with a newly mobile baby. As it happened, Cora slept through the whole session and I got to do the workout with a doll who not only stayed still, but was also considerably lighter than my actual baby.

Our yoga session was followed by a delicious oaty meal cooked by Alex from 26Grains. Cora devoured her beetroot and apple oats and we learned about the power of oats to make you feel good both inside and out. AVEENO® baby products are made with colloidal oatmeal and are gentle on their delicate skin whilst soothing, nourishing and protecting it.

A baby’s skin is unique, their skin barrier is thinner and loses moisture more quickly meaning it can be prone to irritation and dryness. Dr Shefali Rajpopat, an AVEENO® consultant dermatologist and she says “When it comes to baby skincare, it’s important to use ingredients that work to gently nourish and protect their skin. Oats are a key ingredient to look out for - providing gentle relief to dry and sensitive prone skin. Natural colloidal oatmeal creates a protective film that increases skin hydration, helps to maintain normal pH and protects the skin surface from external aggressors. The oatmeal granules even act as micro-sponges to absorb dirt and dead skin cells, to leave the skin feeling soft and healthy. Using a natural ingredient such as oat can help keep babies skin looking and feeling healthy.”

The AVEENO® baby range has become part of our daily routine from the Daily Care Hair and Body Wash in Cora’s bath to the Soothing Relief Emollient Cream we use on Archie’s dry skin. We are going to be incorporating more oats into Cora’s diet too, especially since she has decided she will not eat any bread products! The recipe from 26 Grains is below

In Collaboration with AVEENO®
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