Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Two

This week was a busier week than usual and a lot of it involved being grateful for the people around me.

Learning Through Play – I’m a great believer in children gaining a lot through play. As an adult I am certainly someone who learns better through practical experiences rather than gazing at a screen or someone talking parrot fashion at me.

I think this is also true for children and I love to get out and about with my lot to explore and learn about the world.

A trip to the farm with Oscar lead to us talking all things animals, building and shape naming in the construction area and answering question upon question on the runnings of the farm itself.

Finding Good People – Sometimes in life you just come across people that amaze you with their kindness and thought for others. A while ago I met a lovely lady through a couple of projects that I was working on and her warmness shone through from the moment we met.

Before we went away on our annual trip to Elderflower Fields I was looking into getting some henna put up my arm and she kindly asked me into her home, gave up her time and wanted nothing in return. In a world that can seem so selfish at times its refreshing to know there are certainly still a few good eggs.

Our Little Bit Of Peace – As I mentioned earlier we have just been on our yearly trip to Elderflower Fields that I will be telling you all about next week.

Aside from being a fabulous festival one of our favourite parts about the whole weekend is the chance to spend time together and switch off from the outside world. Its certainly a big bump back to reality once the weekend is over.

Exploring Stories With Pizza Express And Puffin Books

If a poll was taken with my family on which was their favourite restaurant I know that Pizza Express would win hands down!

The children love the delicious food that is served quickly to quash those all to familiar ‘I’m starving’ moans and as a parent I love the family friendly vibe that you get in each and every restaurant. The hustle and bustle means I don’t feel I need to be continually asking the kids to be quiet and with the great activities that are always on offer there is actually not much chance for fidgety bums and fingers to get restless.

It was in fact an exciting new activity pack and competition that Puffin Books have created for Pizza Express that saw us making our way to one of their Brighton branches last week.

We were taken to our seats by our super friendly waiter that handed the children their activities packs and they got started on them straight away. The Story Explorers Adventure Journal was full to the brim with activities and games inspired by different books and it really got the children’s creative juices flowing.

After trying to create their own Grey Huffley from their favourite series РDiary Of A Wimpy Kid they feasted on a starter of dough balls and vegetable crudit̩s while I indulged in some delicately battered calamari that I had to keep Izzy away from!

Actually if you are a fans of Diary Of The Wimpy Kid too then there is a brilliant competition you can enter where you can design your own book cover and submit it online for your chance to win a family portrait down for you by Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid himself.

As we waited on our mains we were treated to a visit from caricaturist Sean Savage who created a fantastic portrait of us all. The kids absolutely loved it and found the size of my teeth hilarious!

With our special memento safely tucked away we ate a delicious selection of pizza and pasta that didn’t fail to disappoint.

Aside from being so family friendly another highlight of Pizza Express for us is the way they cater for Frankie and his multiple allergies. The kids menu can be adapted perfectly which always makes him feel inclusive rather than having to have something completely different which can happen in so many other restaurants.

We had a quick break between courses where it was Izzy’s job to make up the chatter boxes that came in the activity packs. These are always a hit with us and they played for ages asking each other questions to unveil the final answer.

A meal out isn’t complete without desert and at Pizza Express you really are spoilt for choice. The children dived into ice cream sundaes and brownies whilst I went for the mini biscoff cheesecake dolcetti which I told myself was a lighter option!

Full to the brim and bursting with ideas on stories they were going to create and illustrate when they got home really meant that Pizza Express has been a feast for our minds as well as our bellies and we highly reccomend a trip there soon so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

*Collaborated post

Everlasting Memories With Little Tikes

The whole ethos behind my blog is creating memories with my family and documenting them all to look back over in years to come so nothing is ever forgotten.

However our minds are wonderful things that can store and recall so many precious memories and this is where I really want the children to keep those all important moments and first in their lives.

I’m sure that we all remember the first time we tentatively learnt to ride a bike, the first time we nervously got behind the wheel of a car and the first time we gained the confidence to swim.

A few weeks ago Little Tikes invited us along to Silverstone Race Circuit where I was set to experience a first along with my youngest two – a helicopter ride.

It really was a ‘pinch me’ moment and something I don’t know whether we would have had the chance to experience if it wasn’t for my work and I am extremely grateful for that.

We arrived at the vast Silverstone Race Circuit and we had to pick the boys jaws up from the floor as they gazed out at the super cars and motorbikes racing around the track.

Their eyes then lit up even more when they walked into a room full of Little Tikes toys that kept them happy whilst they awaited their adventure.

The Little Tikes Wheels And Fylerz Range was perfect for my little thrill seekers as the remote controls are designed for little fingers to get to grips with and drive and fly to their hearts content.

With all the hype of their impending helicopter flight they headed straight for the My First Flyer which comes as a red air ambulance and a blue police helicopter. Using the one touch controls the helicopter can take to the air with it’s spinning propeller and wings and the boys played for ages seeing who could get it the highest and the furthest.

From here they moved onto the Tyre Twister Lights which is an amazing remote control police car with lights and sirens that can run around inside or outside the huge tyre.

I think a real favourite of the day though were the Remote Control Bumper Cars. Anything that involves crashing is a hit with my boys…including my husband, so with the aim of the game to get your competitor to fly out of their car this was a very popular.

After a lot of play and a spot of lunch it was time to go for a tour of the Silverstone Circuit. It was amazing to be allowed behind the scenes of this magnificent racetrack that was first used over 70 years ago!

We got to see the Race Control Centre which really is the hub for everything going on around the circuit, we visited the commentators box which was amazing to think off the amount of amazing races that have been witnessed from that very place, we got to go down into the pits which was an amazing experience for me and finally we took to the podium with the classic Little Tikes Cosy Coupe which is always a winner in our eyes!

As if the day hadn’t been full enough we were now going to have an experience like no other and one I was so happy to be able to share with the boys. We were driven to the helipad where we were given our briefing and kitted out with ear defenders in preparation for our flight.

Frankie who is certainly ‘all mouth and no trousers’ had a little wobble but I hurried him along before the nerves really set in! All buckled in the helicopter started up and their was absolute silence from the boys, which if you know them is a rarity! The helicopter started to ascended and we were able to enjoy the stunning views of the circuit and surrounding areas. We spent the flight spotting cars and areas that we had explored whist on the ground and the look on their little faces will be something to treasure for a lifetime.

Back on terraferma it was time to make our way home with a some amazing memories of an amazing day. The boys were also lucky enough to take home a My First Flight helicopter as a memento of the day. I hope that every time they lift that control it will bring back thoughts of their own helicopter trip and they can relive that very moment time and time again.

What The Ladybird Heard At Rose Theatre Kingston:Review

We all have a favourite books from our childhood; one that brings back memories and even into our adult life can evoke feelings from times and places around that very story.

The beauty of finding your favourite book in this day and age is the fact that many of the classics are adapted for the big screen or stage, allowing you to enjoy the story in a completely different way.

A favourite in our house at the moment, especially with Frankie is What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. Frankie first came across this fantastic book whilst covering it at school and was lucky enough to play a part in the school assembly that we all loved watching.

You can imagine his excitement when I told him we would be going to see the show on stage at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The Rose Theatre is a new discovery for us and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to the super friendly staff in a lovely bright and spacious reception that lead onto a cafe full of scrummy treats and a small play area that was perfect to keep restless fingers busy.

After a quick look around we made our way to our seats inside the theatre. It had a really laid back feel to it and the children were invited to grab a cushion and take a seat right in front of the stage or settle in their seats if they wanted. Actually as sad as this may seem the seats were a pretty big highlight for me as they were the usual retractable kind but came in a double seat which saved the continual chair banging throughout the show!

The colourful set had the whole audience of little people gazing at the stage with anticipation of the start. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the charters took to the stage. The tale of the two cheeky robbers who were out to steal the farmers prized cow started to unfold and with the use of extremely clear props…my favourite was the goose made from a watering can, catchy tunes and bundles of audience participation the children were keeped engaged for the whole 55 mins which is no mean feat when there is such a young audience.

During the show the children were encouraged to join in with animal noises, sing and mimic the actions to songs and try to spot the elusive ladybird which seemed a favourite with them all. There was also plenty of slapstick style comedy thrown in which is always a hit with my lot!

The characters were warm and friendly and really drew the children in and made a great connection with them. Frankie took a real liking to the naughty robbers whilst Oscar was pretty taken with the jolly farmer.

At the end of the show we were lucky enough to be able to take to the stage for a chat with the characters and the children got to try their hand at using some of the amazing props.

Frankie was over the moon the meet his favourite character ‘Lanky Len’ and Izzy was in her element to get five minutes on stage as this is her absolute dream.

We had a fantastic afternoon and highly recommend this show as a half term treat for all the family.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.

Making The Most Of My Last Few Pre-School Months At Godstone Farm

To those of you who follow my blog regularly it will be of no surprise that I’m having a mini breakdown over Oscar going to school this September. After twenty years of ‘Mums and Toddlers’ groups, countless trips to the park and library visits you would have thought that shipping my last one off to school would be a welcome break but this is far from the way I’m feeling right now.

Due to this is have declared Wednesday as mine and Oscars day of fun. A whole day to ourselves doing things we love and building memories.

We kicked our first week off with a trip to Godstone Farm. I have visited this farm since I was a child myself and have many happy memories of trips here, but over the past few years our visits have become far less frequent and I was still egar to see what they had going on now.

We did the school run and arrived at the farm around 10am and were greeted by a gaggle of geese as we made our way to our first port of call – the animal handling area.

Oscar’s face lit up as he got to meet lots of cute chicks and fluffy bunnies, one of which he got the chance to hold.

After a good while of exploring and plenty of requests to take one home we made our way round to see the bigger animals.

I fell in love with the piglets and Oscar took a liking to the cheeky goats that he had great fun feeding with the super cool pulley system.

From here we hopped on board the tractor for a quick ride around the farm. It was lovely to get another perspective and it’s always so much fun when you’re bouncy around on four wheels!

It was time to stop for a bit of lunch and at Godstone Farm there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic if you have brought your own food along or a delightful tearoom where you can get delicious hot or cold food served by the super friendly staff.

It was the perfect pit stop for use to grab a coffee and of course no day out would be complete without a yummy ice cream!

Godstone Farm has much more to offer then just a visit to see the animals and we both throughly enjoyed hunting for dinosaurs on the Dino Trail.

Oscar tried his hand at palaeontology and excavated some dinosaurs bones, spotted lots of different dinosaurs and just a few times at the sound effects that set off as you pass.

If this wasn’t enough fun we then headed to the new Wiglet’s Play Village which is an amazing indoor space for little ones that is the perfect place for role play. There is a great construction area where Oscar donned his hard hat and built a fort, baked me a cake in the kitchen and tended to his pets in the vets.

There was also a completely separate area for babies, a train track table that Oscar loved and a foam ball area where they could shoot them around to their hearts content.

He had such a great time in there that we didn’t even get a chance to visit the Play Barn that is a much larger area with huge slides, climbing areas and rides ons to enjoy.

Farms trips to me though are definitely about the outdoor play and Godstone Farm has this by the bucketload!

There are areas all over the farm where they can climb aboard bikes and tractors and rush around as much as they like and a huge play area at the top of the farm which had just about everything a child could wish for.

Oscar played in sandpit for a good while before playing ‘Ninja Warrior’ on the slides and obstacle courses and finished off the day speeding down the sledge run that I have to admit I couldn’t resist a sneaky go on.

We had an absolutely amazing day at Godstone Farm and it really did make for the perfect term time trip. The farm was relatively quiet which is great for impatient little ones and something to keep them amused whatever the weather and whatever their likes.

This has certainly been added to our list of favourites and we will be back again very soon!

*We were asked along to Godstone Farm for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Handprint Flowers: #BostikBloggers

This months challenge for BostikBloggers was based on flowers. As I had chosen a more complicated craft based on a flower for Easter I decided to do something that the little ones could join in with this time.

Handprint Flowers

What you need:

Coloured Card
Wooden Skewers
Thin Green Paper
Textured Green Felt
Scicorrs
Glue
Sellotape

First take your coloured card and draw round your little ones hands.

Next cut out the handprints to form the flower head and put to one side.

Next take your wooden skewers and wrap in a little of the thin, green paper and fix along the edge with glue to create a flower stem.

Whilst the glue is drying draw varied leaf shapes on the felt and cut out ready to attach to the stem.

Once the glue has dried on the stem attach the hand prints to one end with a couple of strips of sellotape.

On the other end of the stem take a little glue and attach the leaves that you have cut out.

Once the glue has hardened the flowers are all good to go. My boys decided to give theirs to their Nanny, who would you gift yours too?

Bringing Back The Outdoors With Little Tikes

I am a big believer in the benefits of getting the kids outdoors. In this technology driven day and age a huge percentage of children have very little…if any time spent on outdoor play.

According to a government study more than one in nine children haven’t set foot in a park, woodland or beach in the past 12 months and a whopping 74% of children spend less than an hour outside in the fresh air.

The benefits to outdoor play are endless from increasing a child’s self confidence, building their fine and gross motor skills, boosting those all important serotonin levels to give them that feel good boost and so, so much more.

Little Tikes understand all to well the importance of this too and held an event at The Lookout in the centre of Hyde Park to show just how easy it is to get children excited and engaged about getting outside and having fun.

Luckily for us the sun was on our side for this event and I arrived with two super excited little boys who’s eyes lit up the moment they saw the huge array of brightly coloured, beautiful toys that Little tikes are so famous for.

For us Little Tikes have been a part of our family of the past twenty years. My eldest was bought a kitchen from them for her first birthday and since that moment we loved their hardy, eye catching toys that are certainly built to last and allow childrens imaginations to run wild through play which is so important.

The boys headed straight for the Cozy Coupes as they do whenever we come across one and were really pleased to see the truck version which is a little bigger than the original and has plenty of space in the back for them to carry around anything they wish.

From here they moved onto the playhouses and we were all really taken with the Build-A-House which allowed them to customise their own home with interchanging panels that can be attached with easy to use tools. Oscar was also pretty taken with the BBQ to and loved cooking up a storm for everyone.

After a break for lunch and a spot of face painting they got stuck into the water and sand play. I hadn’t realised that Little Tikes had such a extensive range when it came to this and the boys were literally spoilt for choice.

A big hit with both of them was the Turtle Sandbox that they happily sat in building sandcastles and creating forts with the Monster Dirt Digger. Frankie loved looking on at the Fun Zone Splash Face which was like a tug of war that ends with a splash of water in the face if you loose! Int believe that Mr confident – Frankie was to scared to give it a go.

I spent a good part of the day dodging the bucket full of water that fills and drops without warning in the Fun Zone Drop Zone. This great toy can actually be filled with balls instead of water and used for indoor play as well.

The boys love anything involving wheels and spent a good while winding round the beautiful pathways of The Lookout on the Fold’n Go 5 in 1 trike which has a a fabulous parent handle that allows you control of the steering for a super smooth ride and the Lean To Turn Scooters that give them a super easy ride allowing them to really build their confidence.

As the day drew to an end and I struggled to get the boys to leave it came to my attention that my boys who usually have the shortest concentration span ever had spent half a day through engaged, every muscle in their body used and their imaginations stretched to their limits; we certainly give the Little Tikes outdoor range a big huge thumbs up from us!

My First Baby Annabell:Review And Giveaway

When it comes to dolls in this house there is certainly no gender stereotyping and the boys have loved playing with them just as much as the girls.

The biggest dolly fan though has definitely been Oscar and I love the benefits he gets from playing from them:

Learning Caring And Nurturing Skills – Looking after a dolls allows them to consider the needs of others such as – are they warm enough, do they need feeding, do they need changing.

Building fine Motor Skills – Having to line the bottle up feed the baby, putting on clothing andchanging the nappy are all great ways build their fine motor skills.

Using Their Imagination – The limits are endless to the way they can use their imaginations and role play with dolls. They can build all kinds of scenarios and let their imaginations run wild.

Oscar has built up a pretty good collection of dolls, but what he really wanted was one that can be taken around easily and for me something that is not to heavy and bulky for me to cart around when they’ve had enough!

My First Annabell’s baby brother arrived the other day and Oscar immediately fell in love with him. The squishy body makes him great to cuddle and being a smaller doll than the original Baby Annabell he is perfect to sit on the little ones lap for them to feed with a bottle

He fits easily into my handbag so when Oscar get fed up with parenting I can pack him away easily.

He arrives with a bottle for feeding and is dressed in a pretty, light blue baby grow with matching hat.

He would make the perfect first doll for any child, or a great addition when you want an easily transported doll.

If you want to win one of your very own then please feel free to enter the completion below.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twelve

This week has been a bit of an emotional one with the realisation my youngest isn’t so little anymore and how all Frankie’s hard work has been paying off for him.

Frankie’s Eyesight Improves – Its been nearly a year now since Frankie first started wearing glasses and it has been more than a struggle at times. He isn’t to bad at keeping his glasses on but since he had to start wearing a patch on his left eye we have had nothing but problems.
There have been so many bribes and ultimatums to get him to wear it and it has actually cost us a small fortune in the money he has earned for keeping it on.
It has however been worth the pain as on this visit to the hospital his sight has made a huge improvement and I couldn’t be happier.

Home Styling Tips From The Experts – I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous event hosted by the lovely people at Amara. When it comes to home styling I tend to buy pieces that I like without much thought about how and were they are going to fit into the house.
A day of tips and tricks has helped me no end and I will be showcasing this next week with a post on everything I’ve learnt.

Oscar’s Last Dance Show – Realisation is setting in that my youngest will soon be starting primary school and I will no longer have a little ankle bitter nipping at my toes.
I sat and watched his final dance performance with a lump in my throat and a funny feeling in my tummy that in a few short months this stage of both our lives will be coming to an end.