GETTING STUFF DONE WITH MIGLOO’S DAY

“But Mummmmmyyyyyyyy….what can I dooooooo?” Spud’s at a football tournament with Himself so she’s at a loss without someone to torture.

“How about playing with Barbies / Hama Beads / Aquabeads / the house full of tat you refuse to throw away pet?”

Actually, on this occasion I have a secret weapon on hand to keep her entertained while I crack on with stripping the beds – Migloo’s Day!  We were sent a copy of this gorgeous new book by William Bee to review for Mumsnet/Walker’s Books, thankfully it’s good because this is my first review and I’m a rubbish liar. As you can see it’s bursting with colour, think ‘Where’s Wally?’ but with a storyline and more (lots more!) really cute characters.

The story follows Migloo throughout his day of adventures in Sunnytown (where he manages to blag an impressive amount of snacks along the way – I like him already). Each page is an absolute treat for the eyes, full of action and loveable characters such as Reg (sells the veg) and Flossie (the candyfloss lady) . There are lots of things to spot along the way as well as added challenges at the end of the book.

Flump seemed pretty taken with it, as you can see it even came with her in the car and come bedtime we were still pouring over it. (Mummy will find that damned purple headed pigeon if it kills her!) In fact we’ve been enjoying this book for over a week now and we’re still nowhere near done with it. It’s great for bedtime when Flump’s attention span is not the best so we read a page and then do a little bit of searching or just look at the characters (who are all listed at the front with a little description of who they are).

This is a very sweet book which I can imagine most kids (and parents!) will really enjoy, although Flump needed some help with reading the story, she was more than happy to just look at the scenes and enjoy the illustrations. From a parent’s point of view  – the ultimate doctor’s waiting-room book.

(Oh, and when Spud eventually did return from footy and started to show an interest in Migloo too, the book was swiftly confiscated and taken to the safety of her indoor tent!)

 

We received a copy of Migloo’s Day in return for an honest review.

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BEAUTY AND THE BRAINBOX

Despite being brought up by the same people, in the same environment it’s quite common for siblings to develop into very different characters. I mentioned briefly in my post The Quiet Man ,  the difference in my children’s characters and having spoken to other parents I know this is the case in a lot of families. It has come as no big surprise to me then that this is also the case regarding my children’s approach to learning.

Spud (7) is the logical one. Information goes in, is processed and documented accordingly. This is his brain:

Flump (5) however, well let’s just say she was never quite as interested in her ABCs or 123s. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of letters and numbers right? Jigsaw’s? Pfff. Join the dots? SNOOOORE. Her brain looks like this, but with more glitter:

I have no doubts that she’s gonna get along just fine in life, she knows her mind, she’s independent, tenacious, funny, perceptive, did I mention tenacious? To be honest, I kind of admire her “Why would I want to do that when I can just get someone else to do the boring stuff for me” approach, however I know this is not going to do her any favours in the classroom.

When Spud started school he was more than ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a child genius, just that he has a natural interest in learning, or more specifically understanding things. How does it work? Why does this happen? He likes symmetry, order and logic. Plus he’s one of the oldest in his year so he has a big advantage over some of his classmates.

Obviously that’s great and entirely a result of  our excellent parenting and encouragement through his early years. Or so we may have thought until Flump arrived. One ‘Baby Einstein’ CD and a few phonics books from Poundland does not a boffin make apparently.  Nope, it seems we can take none of the credit when it comes to our son’s thirst for knowledge.

Now it’s relatively easy to encourage a child to be more creative, Spud likes Lego, Minecraft or K-Nex as they suit his little cuboid shaped mind, although if I sat him down with a bunch of crafty bits and NO INSTRUCTIONS he would definitely be out of his comfort zone. Trying to trick  encourage a creative child to think more logically however is a much more challenging task in my experience! How can I help my daughter approach learning in a way that sparks her interest and will give her the mindset she needs to thrive in the classroom and beyond? (This is a genuine question by the way, if anyone has any experience in this field then I’m all ears!)

It’s possible of course to achieve great things without a Masters in Quantum Physics  – literally change the world in some cases ( Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill, Jobs all either poorly educated or dropped out of college) but like any parent I don’t want to see my child struggle through their school days any more than they need to.

It came as quite a relief to me then when I discovered a book by Hilary Wilce,”Backbone: How to build the character Your Child Needs To Succeed“. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the answers at the back (I checked), but it does describe “The 6 key qualities that children need to live a fulfilled and successful life” (tell me more!) and shows how parents can help their children develop these qualities. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can check out the link above for more info and the authors credentials etc but in a nutshell here’s what we’re looking at:

  1. Love – Feeling loved and connected allows children to comfortably develop links with others. Appreciating themselves as a valuable part of the world with their own unique talents and taking their place in teams, being led and leading. Appreciating the world around them.
  2. Resilience – A resilient child will make friends, ride out setbacks and develop a robust but flexible attitude, giving off an optimistic vibe to which others gravitate.
  3. Honesty – Living authentically builds trust and allows you to have good relationships with others. Being honest with yourself gives you a clear and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
  4. Self-Discipline – Children with better self-regulation do significantly better at reading and maths than those who give in to their impulses. It also helps to manage friendships and resist unhelpful peer pressure.
  5. Kindness – Having a kind, empathetic disposition lifts our mood, improves our health, boosts our image and makes us feel more positive and optimistic. 
  6. Courage – Mental courage (failing then trying again), moral courage (saying no to what is wrong) and steadfastness allow a child to live their life with resolution and direction.

 

The book explains in more detail the importance and relevance of the 6 values and what parents can do to encourage each one. It’s a thought-provoking read and for less than the cost of a glossy it’s certainly (sadly) more relevant to me than “30 cool ways to wear culottes” these days.

An interesting concept and whether or not it works in practice I think these are all values that we would like our kids to practice in life regardless. It’s also a very short book. I like short books. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of words anyway?

 

 

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MAGICAL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS PARTY

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This week Flump turned 5 and we celebrated with a little party in the house, just a handful of her classmates and of course big bro, Spud. Himself was back to work after a lovely few days off for Easter but luckily I had lots of Mummies on hand to help out. Flump is big into unicorns at the minute so we went with a ‘Magical Unicorns and Rainbows’ theme which I have to admit I absolutely loved!!

 

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Notelets, Paperchase £3.50 for 8

I wanted to keep the budget fairly small for this one as it’s tempting to get carried away with party planning these days with so many gorgeous ideas and inspiration online (Pinterest I’m looking at you!!) I honestly think a lot of it is wasted on the kids who just want to be made a fuss of and run around with their friends like a bunch of loons. So on a mission to get the balance of fun and finance right, I started looking out for anything that might fit with the theme well in advance, picking up brightly coloured pieces here and there and stashing them away in preparation for the big day. I’ll try to note where everything was from if I can remember but if there is anything in particular you would like more info on just comment below.

The invites went out pretty early as the party was being held during the Easter Holidays so I needed to know if people were going to be away on holiday – luckily everyone was around that day – phew! I saw these notelets in Paperchase and although I know you can buy much cheaper ones these were so cute and perfect for the theme I just couldn’t resist them!

I found some party bags on Ebay and picked up unicorn trinket bracelets (also Ebay), a selection of pens/pencils (B&M)  individually wrapped sweetie necklaces and marshmallow twists (Poundland) as party favours.

Sticking with the theme I decorated the room with a unicorn helium balloon (Amazon) which turned out to be HUGE and some coloured paper decorations and balloons (both ASDA) which I tied together in rainbow colours.

Before the guests arrived I laid out a few crafts on the table (covered in this cute rainbow fabric available by the metre at The Range) to keep them occupied. ‘Make your own unicorn horn’ station with cones made from sparkly card and lots of jewels and stickers for them to decorate with – they loved this! We had colouring sheets, glitter tattoos, nail painting, glow sticks and some good old fashioned party games like pass the parcel and pin the horn on the unicorn (with some painful looking results!!)

I made this Rainbow Unicorn cake inspired by a YouTube video by My Cupcake Addiction although I used a few more colours and made them a bit less bright as I wasn’t so keen on the red buttercream used in the original, I also added a buttercream ‘cloud’ for the unicorn to stand in. The unicorn topper was made by piping white chocolate (using a template underneath some greaseproof paper) and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and edible gold dust – BLING!! (Apologies for the rubbish shots, it was a bit of a manic day!) The usual triangle sarnies, crudités and cocktail sausages kept the girls happy followed by cookies and giant marshmallows (Tiger) on sticks which I dipped in pink candy melts and then into sprinkles – so easy and mega cool looking.

As you can see she seemed pretty happy as we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ (accompanied by Spud on keyboard) as she was presented with her birthday cake adorned with FIVE (how is this possible??!) silver candles. Party bags distributed  and lots of kerfuffle with coats and shoes, the guests headed home and the birthday girl settled down to open her gifts – exciting! Mummy put the kettle on and cut an extra large slice of cake. Birthday party, done. Now I could do with a magical unicorn to tidy up this aftermath.

x

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WEEKEND BOX CLUB INDEPENDENT REVIEW *FREE TRIAL BOX*

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The house seems ever so quiet this morning following a week of half-term shenanigans! Trips to the park, playdates, cinema (followed by the obligatory half-term Happy Meal), baking and general  monkeying around made for a lovely week of family time; Himself even had a few days off work to join in the fun! I always factor a few lazy days in between plans for any school holiday as I think the kids do need a rest even though they will NEVER EVER admit to being tired. Their absolute favourite thing to do on our lazy days is craft. Anything involving paper, scissors and lots and lots of mess keeps them happy for literally hours. I recently discovered an online company called  Weekend Box Club who will post a selection of craft activities for you to enjoy containing everything you need to get going all in one little box! With half-term on the horizon I knew it would be perfect so I joined up and placed an order which arrived a couple of days later in time for me to stash it out of sight from little peepers.

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I ordered the Bumper Box which includes 4 activities and costs £7.50 per box but they also offer a Mini Box which includes 2 activities for £4.95. The Mini-Box is delivered fortnightly and the Bumper Box can be delivered fortnightly or monthly. They also offer gift subscriptions which I think is a really lovely idea and way more fun than a bunch more plastic tat for the toy box.

As you can see the packaging is pretty trippy which I love and as soon as the kids saw it they couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was all about! You’ll be introduced to Hattie, Wooster, Sammy & Oswald and inside you will find your brightly coloured envelopes containing supplies, clear instruction cards for each activity, stickers and a certificate to colour in on completion of your masterpieces!

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Each box has a theme and we received the Native American themed box. Card, string, powdered paint, a paintbrush and even blu-tac were supplied to make a native American headdress modeled here by Flump (customised with insect doodles and stickers).

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Spud decided to make the dreamcatcher which is hanging proudly in his bedroom window and looks great, lots of beads and feathers in bright colours and he loves the idea that his bad dreams are now being captured by his creation! (Also customised with insects for some reason?)

The third activity was making your own totem pole, for which you needed to supply your own loo roll tube. The envelope supplied some sticky backed foam to make your totem pole animals with and crayons to decorate the pole. We found this one a little less exciting but still enjoyed thinking up our animals and the cutting and sticking of course.

Of the four activities one involves baking, on this occasion BBQ Baked Beans. The envelope included a sachet of sugar and one of spice. Unfortunately the kids weren’t impressed with this one and I didn’t have the ingredients required to hand  even if they had wanted to make them. I understand that the baking activity is chosen to fit with the theme and will always require some additional ingredients/equipment, which I would not expect to be provided by post, but I did feel this particular envelope was a bit disappointing given what was provided.

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Overall I would definitely give the Weekend Box Club a big thumbs up. We spent a total of 3 hrs (with a snack break for Little Bird and Big Chief Bear Catcher) happily cutting, sticking and painting and it would have been more if we had done the baking activity so in terms of entertainment this little box packs a big punch! For those on a budget you can easily add to the quite generous supplies provided using your own stash, as I did, to allow for two children to complete each activity; which works out considerably less expensive than most kids activities x2 or even a magazine each! I also think it would be a great treat for Grandparents to have up their sleeve for sleepover weekends, where they may not have quite the amount of crafty bits and bobs to hand as Mummy Maker does.

I will say that this is not something that can be used to keep the kids amused while you get on with the ever growing heap of laundry. Both Spud and Flump needed quite a lot of assistance along the way so make yourself a cuppa and set aside some time to enjoy this as a family activity. Personally speaking, my two just want my time and attention 24/7, which they don’t get because LIFE, but when they do it means a lot to them. In fact the Weekend Box Club sum this up perfectly in their own philosophy, “Enhancing You and Them time, not replacing it”.

If you would like to try the Weekend Box Club for yourself they very kindly offer a FREE first box when you join up using this link and you can cancel really easily through your online account should you wish to.

Let me know if you try it or if you are already a member of the club (my weekend club memberships have changed somewhat since becoming a mother, although this one costs a lot less and comes with a no-hangover guarantee!!)

Have fun!

x

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THE QUIET MAN

Sometimes I wonder how on earth my children came out of the same womb! Despite being brought up in the same environment they are different in so many ways. It’s fascinating to watch them evolve into these little characters who will one day go out into the world, armed with their own persona as a result of everything they have experienced and the opinions they have formed as a result. But what is it that determines how or why they learn to act or react to different situations? The age old question of ‘Nature Vs Nurture’ certainly raises its head.

As a mother I’m hardwired to worry about every aspect of my children’s development and personality is something that determines so much in our lives that I find myself constantly questioning my parenting style and its affects. Am I doing enough to raise children who will have the tools to deal with life and it’s challenges in a way that is reasonable and healthy? Am I overly authoritative? Am I stifling their personalities?  Do they know they are loved unconditionally? Are they happy? The list seems endless and exhausting! From the moment we first pick up that Gina Ford book (who doesn’t want a contented little baby, right?) we question our actions as a parent.

Now I would consider both my children to be generally happy, healthy little souls, completely oblivious to all of my concerns on the above. They go to school quite happily, enjoy a good social group of friends and a loving home life (despite their constant bickering!). I can usually take them out in public without them acting like total morons, they generally do as they are asked and have a pretty good understanding of what is and isn’t socially acceptable. Pretty standard stuff for any 4 and 7 year olds. Personality wise, my 4yr old daughter is the funny, independent, creative, slightly bonkers, more confident of the two while my 7yr old son is a totally different animal. Outwardly he is a typically energetic, inquisitive, cheeky little chappy but he is also kind, and gentle, he has an understanding of how his actions affect others. He is loving, thoughtful, affectionate, perceptive, logical, introvert. He questions life, and religion, and death. He is my little thinking man.

In a world where extroverts are generally perceived as the superior, more celebrated camp I often worry that I should be doing something to encourage my son to develop a thicker skin, to be more confident, to be different. It saddens me so much to think that my little man, with his beautiful, perfect heart should change anything about himself in order to be on a level pegging with the next person. Is he a more likely target for bullies? Will he be able to present himself well in a college interview? Will he have the self confidence to put himself forward for a promotion? Of course we all want the best for our children but maybe it is time to celebrate all the positive qualities our children have without trying to change them. Maybe that in itself would instill a greater sense of self-worth as a child and ultimately throughout life. After all it seems such a shame to try to quash these precious traits that are often lacking in the world today. Let’s celebrate the introverts in our lives and appreciate how a quieter perspective on life might just be a positive thing in a very noisy world.

 

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PERFECTLY ORDINARY

I remember when a perfect weekend started at 5.31pm on a Friday and almost certainly involved the office local, lots of vodka & Diet Cokes, and too many Marlboro Menthols. There were lie-ins, walks in the park and maybe a bit of market mooching and cake munching along the way. Ahh bliss… I do miss those days a lot but these days a perfect weekend couldn’t be further away from this. If you’re reading this chances are you’re a parent who waved goodbye to lie-ins long ago. You may (like me) be a one income family or a single parent meaning disposable income is something you no longer need concern yourself with. All that that lovely vodka money?  That’s now been gobbled up by Aptamil, nipple cream and teething gel or if your further down the parenting road uniforms, school trips and Match Attax cards.

Yes, things are a little different these days. As life’s stages shift and unfold we discover a whole new world where it’s not about us anymore, but these little people bumbling around our legs trying to figure out the world around them. Now perfect weekends come in the form of dozy little snuggles in bed (usually way too early in the morning for my liking but one day they’ll stop and so until then I remind myself how very lucky I am to have them). Lazy mornings still exist but involve cartoons (and coffee!) in our dressing gowns followed by footie training for Spud and ballet for Flump (er, no intentional gender stereotyping here – I promise!!). The rest of the day was just a content blur of good ol’playing, bickering and munching, I even accomplished the odd bit of housework before bathtime.

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Saturday morning Sofa Sloths

The kids faces lit up on Sunday morning when they looked out the window to discover an overnight dusting of snow (just enough to squash together a muddy little snowman!)  Flump had to check it was snowing out every window and then it was snowsuits and wellies on and out into the garden to play! Flump had the good sense to come in once the initial excitement wore off her gloves started to get soggy but Spud is clearly made of stronger stuff than us girls and was determined to stay out to finish his snow (mud/grass) man.

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We are lucky enough to have wonderful in-laws nearby who cook a full Sunday roast for us every week ( I know!) and so we spent the rest of our day stuffing ourselves silly and tormenting Great Grandma, as per usual. And that’s it, our very ordinary weekend, not particularly eventful but perfect in so many ways. I already know that these are the days I will look back on fondly when the kids are all grown up and sleepy cuddles and cartoons are a distant memory. X

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THROW BACK THURSDAY? NO THANKS!

Today requires a list. Not one of your ‘send off passport renewal forms, pay window cleaner etc etc’ type lists. More of a ‘How to function as a human being until it is acceptable to go to bed’ type list. Yes, I know all you parents of teeny tots are struggling with serious sleep deprivation day after day, I’ve been there, twice, and then I stopped having babies so I could FINALLY GET SOME SLEEP! Last night however, in some weird kind of time travelling nightmare I was right back to those nights of stumbling across the landing in a bleary eyed stupor, in the dark, at some ungodly hour to tend to a little person.

Firstly to Spud with his hacking cough and wheezy little lungs, medicine and inhaler administered and back under my duvet for just enough time to get warmed up and doze off before I hear Flump crying out ‘Muuuuummyyyyy’!! Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle again, “What’s wrong?”, “I’ve had a bad dream, I was on fire”. “There, there…shhh…shhh, etc etc”.

By this point my brain had clocked in for the day and was trying to have a conference call with my body which was screaming “Shut the *$%@ up!!!! Now is not the time to be planning lovely craft ideas for Flumps 5th birthday in MARCH!!!” then pretends to be asleep. Luckily for brain, it wasn’t too long before another holler came from across the landing. “Muuuuuuuummmmyyyy, my clock’s beeping at me, I didn’t do anything, it’s just beeping!”

I look at the clock, praise be, only 15mins until it’s officially an acceptable time to be awake. “Only 25minutes until wakey time pet” (leaves with clock).

Hence the list, which has helped immensely by the way.

1: Eat breakfast (not cake). Stuff Nutribullet with healthy berries, green things etc. Tick.

2: School run. Tick.

3: Get some air. Walk to next town, pop into Waitrose for a few bits but mainly for the free latte (fist pump). Tick

4:Pretend not to be grumpy. (Listening to Scummy Mummy podcasts = LOLs) Smile at everyone I pass on my walk, goes down pretty well apart from two occasions, both teenage boys, who to be fair did smile back, nervously. Tick.

So far so good; I would have preferred to lie on the sofa and catch up on The Man in the High Tower but hey ho. Actually something pretty cool happened on the way back from my walk. I bumped into a friend who was out walking with a woman I had never met before who lives 5 houses down from me! Good stuff huh?

Right, next on the list: Eat nutritious, low GI lunch to maintain energy levels…umm, are Tunnocks Tea Cakes low GI???

X

 

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