Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas 2011

So it is December 28th. Christmas has passed by in a blur as usual and here I am, most likely 10lbs heavier (haven't dared get weighed) waiting now to start the New Year diet and take down the tree, pack the Christmas toys away in their bedrooms and reclaim my living room as soon as school starts again!

Anyway Christmas was nice while it lasted. We had a little party on 20th December for some school friends of Melissas. My husband dressed up as Father Christmas and gave out selection boxes and we played some party games. The kids all had a great time but its not going to be an annual thing!

On Christmas eve, we did a buffet for my family in the evening and once again my husband dressed as Father Christmas and gave out presents. Not sure if he had the kids fooled or not!

Christmas day passed in a blur. Melissa openned her presents at record speed. Her favourite was a cheap make up set I bought in B&M. I am starting to regret this already as every morning she smothers her fake in glitter and blue eye shadow and then does the same to Louis. She is not allowed out in it though as it looks extremely chavtastic in my opinion-5 year old girls in make up.

Anyway, here are some pictures from our Christmas:

Christmas preparations

Well last year in December, we seemed to do a million and one imaginative Christmas themed crafts and the like. However, this year with school and pre school there doesn't seem to have been as much time. Plus we no longer live a five minute walk to town or big supermarkets so its not as easy to stock up on crafty supplies.

We did manage a few activities though;

Christmas sensory tub
This was the same as last years theme; a couple of cheap mini christmas trees and some tree decorations.

Gingerbread shapes

I made up the dough myself for quickness and then with the kids, cut out gingerbread men and house shapes. These were then decoarted with white icing (snow) and sweets.

I cut out the snowflake shapes before hand and then gave the children a mix of PVA glue and glitter paint to pain them with. This was quite a messy, sticky activity and if I did it again I would probably use card instead of paper for the snowfales as they kept ripping when they got wet.

Day out
Not really christmas themed, but we have had some nice mild weather so one day we made a picnic and took a trip to two national trust parks and had a walk though the woods there.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Center Parcs

Well I never heard anything back from my begging letter about whether the children's holidays were authrosied by the school; its too late now as we are back from a fabulous 5 days in Center Parcs.

Center Parcs is excellent for children-though extremely expensive if you don't go in term time! This year we spent most of our time in the swimming pool; absolutely fantastic! Last year when we went, neither child would go down any of the kid's slides and Louis wouldn't even leave our side in the children's pool. However this year, they were much braver, going down the slides and exploring the shallow children's area by themselves (obviously eatched by us but it was nice to be able to relax a bit in the warm water, without following them round!).

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the pool as I didn't want to risk dropping my phone in the water!

When we weren't swimming, there was plenty more for the kids to do. In past years we have always booked art and craft activities but now the kids are at school I thought this would not any longer be any kind of novelty to them. Instead they did, Tot's movie mooves-which involved dancing to lots of Disney songs, Canope capers-involving parachute games and on the last day a Christmas teddy bear's picnic.

In the evenings the kids played in the bar play area while my husband and I could enjoy a drink (very expensive-over a fiver for a gllass of wine eeeek-I normally get 3 bottles for a tenner in Asda!).

Schools may moan about taking the kids out during term time and harp on about missing out on education, but in my opinion, a holiday like this has as much of a wider educational and enrichment value as a week spent in school would. Obviously I won't make a habbit of taking them out of school for holidays ALL the time but I cannot see the harm in once or twice a year!!!!

Anyway, here are some pictures:
Beautiful Christmas Swan on the lake

Taking part in Canope Capers

Melissa in the play area

In the outdoor wooden play area

Looking for red squirrels

Teddy Bear's picnic

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Begging letter...

So nextr week we are off to Center Parcs. Just one thing though; we need to get the school to authorise the holidays-eek. I thought it was a simple matter of the teacher using their discretion and signing the form but Oh no!. I was made to feel like a naughty fourteen year old by the school receptionist when trying to fill in the form (she wouldn't even lend me a pen to do this). Was told to write a letter to the head to support my request-with evidence if possible why I must take the holidays now! So here is my best attempt:
Dear Mr Smith

Please would you authorise my children, xx and xx (Reception and Nursery PM) to go on a family holiday (7th-11th November).
As a parent, I obviously do not wish my children to miss any of their valuable education, however at this time it was very difficult for us to book a holiday in school holidays.
Firstly, my husband works predominantly with women with young children who take their holidays in school holiday time for childcare. As his job allows only two staff off at a time, it is very hard for him to get time off in school half terms as the priority is given to those needing it for childcare.
Secondly, we booked the holiday, a year ago when I was unaware of the school policy surrounding leave of absence for holidays.
I would be very grateful if you could authorise these holidays. I can also assure you that I feel this holiday (Centre Parks) will be of educational value to the children since they will be taking part in activities such as art and craft, drama and sports.

The end bit about the educational value of Center Parcs was such a brainwave-surely he will go with this! I was going to really tug at his heart strings and talk about what a stressful year we have had with the house move but throught that might have been taking it to far!

Obviously we are still going even if it doesn't get authorised but my poor kids will start their school life with five days 'unauthorised absense' in the first term!. Needless to say I think starring roles in the school play are also out of the question now seeing as they most likely start practising the nativity next week.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Autumn and Halloweeen stuff

Play academy-follow this link to see what others are doing

Since the kids have started school and pre school there has not been as much time for craft and theme related stuff. However, with halloween coming up, along with the dark nights and colder weather, I decided it was time to search for some inspiration.

I found some great ideas on there and adapted them a bit to fit in with the resources we had available as money is a bit limited at the moment for buying endless craft supplies!


All these involved was sticking tissue paper squares on paper plates which will then have a face drawn on with black pen.

Scary looking cakes

With blue or red icing....

Threading skeletons

I bought plastic skeletons and skulls in the pound shop. Melissa threaded the skeletons into a piece of cotton (good for fine motor skills as the hole is really small) and Louis did the skulls.

Haunted Houses
These were printed off from Activity Village and were great to give the kids to get on with with minimal input from me. Very American seeing as no one round here has a house that massive though of course! The kids coloured in the house and the decorations and then Melissa was able to cut out the decorations and stick them herself. Louis on the other hand needed help but he is getting better with using scissors.

These were
Leaf Pictures

We went on a nature walk, collecting various leaves, twigs and acorns which were then stuck onto large sheets of paper cut into a leaf shape. I think sticky back plastic would have been better really but since we have moved about 5 miles from shops which sell such supplies we have had to make do a bit more with what we have in the house instead of nipping to the supermarket for supplies

So now we have decirated the house all ready for halloween. I am really excited this year that we actually haave a front garden to decorate too in readyness for trick or treaters! I am working and have a hairdressers appointment on actually halloween so we will celebrate tomorrow with a special tea and trick or treating. I kind of wish we had had a party but its only 3 weeks since Melissa's birthday party!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Melissa's 5th Birthday...

I can't quite believe it myself but my little Melissa turned 5 earlier this month. Though her actual birthday was on a Friday, due to school, we celebrated on the Saturday with a party. Not being one to do things by halves, I decided hiring a room and having a big party was the way forward. That way I could invite her old friends from playgroups, nursery, my mummy friends kids etc... as well as any new school friends. Because she had only been in school about 2 weeks when I sent out the invites, I decided, inviting all the girls in the class would be the way forward. Well about half of them replied and came but the other half; rude so and sos did not even bother to reply!!
As usual I invited too many people, thinking many wouldn't turn up. That meant in total there were about 25 children at the party. Melissa wanted it to be fancy dress so all the girls came as princesses where as the boys were a mix of pirates, super heros and dinosaurs.
In the beginning I had this idea I would provide the entertainment myself. However I soon chickened out and we hired a very good, but very expensive children's entertainer. The kids, however, did seem to enjoy it and join in!
Here are some photos...

Starting school

Well, we are almost half way through the autumn term; Melissa's first year at school and Louis first year at nursery.
It all seems to be going ok thankfully. Louis took a while to settle in to nursery. Although he always said he enjoyed himself and the teachers said he was fine, he would cry when I dropped him off. The teaching assistant has been really good with him and would make a special fuss and read him a story. Anyway, fingers crossed, about 2 weeks ago he said 'I've decided I am not going to cry now mummy.' and that was that. He has gone in happy enough ever since. It is really cute seeing him shout the names of the other children and nice he is making his own friends and devloping his own personality with some time away from Melissa.
Melissa being at school means me and Louis have two mornings together when I am not in work. I have all these plans to teach him his letters and numbers ready for school but so far all we have really done is play or have a cuddle!!
Melissa, on the other hand seems to have taken no trouble settling into school. I took her in on the first day and she went and sat down like she had been going every day of her life. She is mentioning the names of a few other children so hopefully she is making friends fine. She is very indpendent but seems popular with the other kids!
School seem to have started already with reading, writing and numbers. At the end of the first week Melissa brought home her first reading book. Strangely it had no words in it but appparently this is to get the children used to the charactors of the scheme they use. She has been bringing home 2 new words to learn more or less every night and seems to be picking them up very quickly. I am under no illusion she is a genius though-she is almost a year older than many of the kids in her class!
Tomorrow is parent's night for both kids so will find out how they are getting on.
Here are some pictures of them in their uniforms....

Monday, 12 September 2011

School holidays

Tot School

Well, the school holidays are almost over. Louis had his first day at pre school and Melissa will have her first day in reception class next Monday. I haven't really blogged much over the holidays so this post is a summary really of what we have been up to.

Meeting up with friends
I got the phone numbers off quite a few of the mums of children Melissa had played with at pre school so on most days when I wasn't working we had someone to meet up with. Activities included, trips to the local park, trips to soft play (when the weather was bad) and playing in the house. It was nice that Melissa's friends included Louis too, infact most of her friends have a younger brother or sister so he had people to play with also.


Unfortunately I have come to the realisation that I am not in any way shape or form any kind of cook so our baking activities involved making up packet mix cakes.

Horse riding

My sister and mum have horses-actually one of them was mine before I had the kids. We took Melissa and Louis down to the stables a few times and they enjoyed brushing and a quick ride on the smaller of the two horses.

Playing in the garden

I usually jump at any chance to get out in the garden with the kids at any sign of sunshine (a rare sight in the north of England). We bought the kids a trampoline which they love!

Outdoor chalking has also been a hit...

Days out

We have had 3 proper family days out. The first was more an attempt at one as we set off from our house in overcast but dry weather but when we arrived at our park of choice, only 11 miles aways, everything was soaking. It ended up being a trip to costco instead!

Another day out was to Southport where we had a walk round, some fish and chips and then Melissa and Louis went on a few fairground rides.

Thirdly, we took a trip to Tatton park, a national trust park which has a fabulous adventure playground and lovely gardens and nature walks.

Caravan mini breaks

My parents have just bought a caravan in the Lake District so we have had two long weekends there. Unfortunately, particularly the first time we went, the weather was quite wet. However the kids enjoyed the indoor pool and have improved their swimming and managed to get a few goes on the outdoor playground. In the evening we went to the clubhouse and my husband and I had a few drinks while the Melissa and Louis watched the children's entertainment. Louis even won the fancy dress competition.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Jam jar decorating

Join the play academy link up...

Being a typical North west England summer, we have had quite a lot of rain in the last couple of weeks so I have had to find ways to keep the kids busy in the house (my least fav thing,being stuck inside with bored kids!). In preparation for this, before the start of the summer holidays, I asked people at work to save for me any old boxes and also jam jars.

The boxes are for junk modelling which we have not yet done and the jam jars for decorating.

I did consider using glass paints but thought the kids may be a bit young especially Louis. So I decided the best thing to do would be firstly paint the jars all over with thick pva glue.

I then gave the kids a tub each of tissue paper shapes and asked them to stick them all over the jars so no white was showing.

The results turned out quite good!

Ibiza holiday

This post is about 2 months too late but I wanted to do a little post on our summer holiday to Portinax in Ibiza. We went with my mum, dad, sister and her boyfriend as my dad paid for us all to go for his 60th birthday/retirement celebrations.

We stayed in a wonderful all inclusive hotel which was extremely child friendly. Melissa enjoyed going to the kids club in the mornings where they did craft and theme related activities. Louis unfortunately would not be left in the kid's club as he is going through a phase of being very clingy (dread nursery start in a few weeks!).

We had gorgeous weather and spent every day partly by the pool and then partly on the beach and the kids stayed up really late in the evening to watch the entertainment.

Here aere some photos anyway :-)
The beach....

Melissa and Louis in the kids pool (excuse Louis sunhat!)

At the beach

Melissa on the slide

We all had a lovely time and have booked to go again next year!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Outdoor play-camping and kitchen

Follow this link for the Play accademy to see more outdoor play ideas...
So the last week or so we have had some semi decent weather-not paddling pool weather but certainly outdoor weather. The good thing with outdoor play is it means the house stays tidy :-) and I can get on with a bit of gardenning while the children play.
Anyway, firstly I decided it would be quite a nice idea to make a home made tent. I bought 5 long bamboo sticks from a DIY store and me and the kids tied them into a basic tent shape. Unfortunately I didn't have an ideal blanket to cover it with as all my spare ones have been used as floor cloths for painting so we used a fitted sheet.

If we do this activity again, then I am going to buy a special 'thing' which can be used to make a tipee! These can be bought from the DIY store as they are designed for making a tipee to grown creeping plants on!

In addition to the tent I decided to bring the children's kitchen accessories out which we bought in Ikea. They don't use them much in the house but I saw many ideas on blogs about setting up outdoor kitchens so thought they would be ideal for this. Added to that I brought out a mini oven which I purchased for £3 at a local car boot sale.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Oh no rain again...

Tot School

It may be July but the last few days we have had nothing but rain. I must admit I really do struggle to keep the kids entertained and also to keep my patience when stuck in all day. Here are a few things we have been doing any way. Sensory tubThe latest sensory tub for this month (except I am never organised enough to actually present the kids with it at the start of the calender month) is a kind of sweet shop/ice cream shop theme. I added pompoms, plastic reuseable ice cubs, scoups, bowls and tongs and then I added some beeds to empty gumball machines. The kids have used this to play sweet shops as well as making sequencing patterns with the coloured pom poms and ice cubes using the ice cube trays. In the Pond I came across some wonderful pre school packs on a site called homeschool creations which I have been printing off to put aside for rainy days. Each one of them fits in with a theme and I have that many books that I should be able to find a related book for each one so I thought on rainy days we could focus on a different pre school pack. I am the kind of person who if I don't have a plan, I will just tend to leave the kids messing around and spend far too much time online browsing Facebook etc.. Anyway the first one I chose was the Pond theme as we have a book called In the Pond which fits in well with this! Also, on a site called I found some wonderful 'life cycle of a frog' cut and paste activities! Again these fitted perfectly with the book! and finally here is a video of Melissa singing a song she learnt at ballet which cheered us all up in this gawd awful weather!!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

fairy gardens

play academy

Linking up with Nurture store's play academy

I have been wanting to make fairy gardens for a while with the kids and have finally got round to it.
For the container we used a seed tray with holes in the bottom so that they can be kept outside. We firstly filled them with compost and little stones. I bought a few bits to put in-bridges, mini fake pot plants, blue gravel to act as a river, some plastic trees from the dinasaur set and best of all some tiny minature garden gnomes!!!
We added in some plastic Disney characters but hopefully another activity might be making 'peg fairies'!

Melissa's garden

Louis' garden

Monday, 6 June 2011

June-gardening theme.

Tot School

I have been very lazy about blogging lately!
Firstly we have just got back from a short trip to France to see my husband's family so I will beging by sharing a few photos. My husband's family are dairy farmers-infact he grew up on the farm.
Here is a photo of me and the kids with my husband's brother in his tractor

Here is my husband playing in the barn with the kids

and here is Melissa all dressed up for an evening in a restaurant...

We all had a great time. I was suprised how relaxing and enjoyable as I had been a bit anxious about it as my French is not so great plus their way of life is so slow paced compared to ours. Three days was not long enough particularly as they had such gorgeous weather and we are having horrid cold rainy weather in Engand.

So now onto our new theme for June. I decided on a theme about gardenning. I have ordered stuff off amazon to make minature/fairy gardens. So far all we have done is fill a tray with soil and use some stones off the rockery but hopefully this time next week we will have more detail :-)

My sensory tub is combined with my playdough theme this month. I filled the tray with fake flowers, plant pots, kids gardenning tools and some brown playdough to act as 'soil' for potting the flowers!
Next week I will get a photo of the kids in action with the sensory tub. I had to just take a quick shot as I have had no camera batteries for days!!!

We have also done tons of 'real' gardenning, involving potting bedding plants in tubs!