27 February 2017

How our first Butlin's holiday turned out... Fantastic!

We visited Butlin's Minehead this February half term. I loved our little mini-holiday, just the three of us spending time together as a family, having good family fun. We were invited to review the Butlin's holiday experience as one of their Blogger Ambassadors and yep. I'm now a total Butlin's convert. I loved it so so so much I would go back in a heartbeat. 

butlins minehead helter skelter

toddler laughing on a fairground ride

butlins minehead merry go around in the sun

toddler on a merry go around

butlins minehead west lakes village signs

butlins minehead parkview chalets

dad and daughter playing mini golf

family picture at butlins minehead mini golf

What I mostly loved was the ease of it all. We didn't have to think of anything. We didn't really plan the days. We had a look at the schedule and went where we felt like it, and there was always something to do. For some downtime we enjoyed seeing the shows, and the Skyline Gang songs are still ringing in my ears. A certain little someone was so taken by The Gang she got herself her own Skyline costume and has been practising her moves home too. 

We just went where the flow took us, and quite often it was down the rapids at the water park. If we asked our daughter what she wanted to do, invariably it was "Swimming!". So that's what we did! On the last day we spent about three hours in the water park... I was absolutely knackered by the end. 

The outdoors fairground took our fancy too several times and in the end were well acquainted with the three or so rides that accepted kids under 1.1 meters... I've never a been fan of fairgrounds but I loved the traditional rides and even tried a Helter Skelter for the first time in my life! 

watching shows at butlins minehead sky pavillion

teletubbies who at butlins minehead

meeting mimi character at butlins minehead

meeting candy character from skyline gang at butlins minehead

evening ride on a fairground merry go around

mum and daughter riding a horse on a merry go around at dark at butlins minehead

mum and daughter on a merry go around at dar at butlins minehead

The other thing I loved was how everything was geared towards kids. Our lives have totally changed after having our first child, and she really is the most important person on our holiday. If she has fun, we have fun. Doing things as a family, where she can properly join in, is exactly what we need and what I want from my holiday. And we did a lot of that. Spent time as a family. The little things that I noticed, how the staff would always talk directly to the kids and on their level made me smile too. It was the little things that made it special. 

Our whole stay was so relaxing, surprising really for a family holiday. We stayed in one of the self-catering chalets in West Lakes Village, which the check-in staff referred to as the posh accommodation, ha. It was lovely, and when my daughter exclaimed that "I love my holiday home" I really felt the same too. We didn't do much of cooking though, as we ate at the buffet-style restaurant The Deck for breakfast and dinner, and consequently rolled back to London at the end of our holiday... 

I will write an in-depth review of our stay, including the accommodation, food and entertainment once I get a bit of time. I also so many lovely videos too I have been crafting into a YouTube video. Just watch this space! I have been loving looking back at our first family holiday together, and I so want to go again! 

girl on beach at butlins minehead

butlins minehead beach

dad and daughter on a beach at butlins minehead

mum and daughter playing with seaweed on beach at butlins minehead

seaweed mermaid on sand at beach at butlins minehead

Have you been to Butlins?

5 February 2017

6 funny ways my kid tries to avoid sleeping

My kid has some right funny ways of avoiding sleep. Trying to get a three year old to go to bed without too much aggravation is, well frankly, futile. The ways my daughter has tried to get out of bedtime has had me laughing so many times. Here are a collection of her best sleep-shunning techniques. 

how my kid tries to avoid sleeping - girl standing in bed holding her teddies

1. One time I heard her jumping in her bed. I got up to her room, told her in a stern voice "Go to sleep, head on the pillow, NOW!". To which she responded by closing her eyes, walking in circles in her cot-bed and said back to me "Mummy, I'm sleep walking!"

Honestly, I could not handle it - I totally cracked up and giggled for a long time afterwards. 

2. Quite a few times she has also had these weird and random rambling play sessions in bed. I think we have given her a few too many soft toys to cuddle in her bed. So one night, instead of going to her room to tell her off I decided to sit outside her room and listen in. And this is what I wrote down.  

"Bunny, what are you doing? 
It is dangerous, I said it many times. Bad behaviour bunny!"
"I'm going to be scared, I'm a little bunny."
"Oh no I'm happy. Oh no I'm not angry, I'm not mean. I'm very friendly to you. Be quiet, here is your pop corn."
"Nam nam nam. More!"
"Here's pop corn for you."

"Did you eat my pop corn? Oh no my favourite pop corn."
"What have you eaten? My pop corn!"
"Oh no that's not good, we have to get some more from the shops Skye."

"I can come"
"Here is pop corn."


"Thanks you"
"Here's a cake from me Chase."

"Um nononnom nom"

And just to give you guys a bit of back ground - pop corn is possible her favourite food, and she is a big fan of both Paw Patrol (Chase and Skye are two main characters) and bunnies.

how my kid tries to avoid sleeping - pulling a funny face in cotbed

3. One recent gem happened as I put her to bed. She closed her eyes like a good girl, was under the duvet, relaxed. And suddenly she opened her eyes and smiled. I asked her "Why are you not sleeping? You need to sleep now". To which she said "I already slept. It's morning! Time to get uuuuup!". Yep. I tried keep a straight face while trying to sternly tell her it is her bedtime now... Guess how well that went? 

4. She quite often likes to sing to herself, and we get a rendition of a random selection of nursery songs, and sometimes slightly skewed lyrics. Such as 

"Too many Skye's, jumping on the bed,
One fell off and bumped her head,
Aili called the doctor and the doctor said:
No more pups jumping on the bed"

5. Guilt tripping is a speciality of hers. We have heard it all so far. There has been the fake tears and the fake wailing, which are quite easy to distinguish from real honest sad crying and wailing. It is the pauses. The little pauses between sobs which are for listening what the parental response is. And if there is no parental response there might be a bit of an increase in intensity by adding phrases such as "Why doesn't my mummy hear me? I miss my mummy!" or "Why is my daddy not coming to me? I love him."

little girl smiling and holding teddies - how my kid tries to avoid sleeping

6. And perhaps the sweetest one of them all has been the times when she just does not want to go to bed, and just wants that one more kiss. That one more cuddle. When she, after being given cuddles, being put to bed, having been read a story and sang a song, goes for the one more cuddle before bed time.
This happens usually as I close the door and I am about to go down the steps I hear a little voice shouting "I need a kiss mummy! You didn't cuddle me, I want a cuddle!"

It is just one of those little request, no matter how much she needs to go to bed, I just can't refuse. Seriously, could you? 

How do your kids try avoid going to sleep? Any similar techniques?

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4 February 2017

Do you think you can play out when it is freezing?

When it is -24 Celsius degrees out you aren't too sure if going out to play is that wise. That's what we faced when we were in Finland during Christmas. The fact is though, you can absolutely play outside when it is freezing. 

It is all about preparation. 

a child wearing ski clothing and playing out in freezing weather

father and daughter walking on a frozen beach

frozen beach in finland

a child playing in snow wearing ski clothing

They say in Scandinavia that there is no bad weather. There is just bad clothing. For properly freezing weather kids best wear balaclavas on their heads, and a couple of woollen mittens - one thin and one thick on top. Ski clothing is the best for playing out in the snow. Proper layering helps, and the most crucial thing about layering is that you try and create air between the layers. Think wool and fleece for best results. Shoes should have a thick sole, and not be too packed with socks. It is the air which really makes the difference. 

And while our daughter was dressed appropriately in her brand new ski gear, us parents weren't quite that prepared. My toes were freezing, as I had running shoes, and my legs were freezing as I had jeans on. Thankfully my jacket was a thick down jacket and my felt mittens were perfect for sub-zero temperatures. We were sort of half prepared - mainly our to halves. 

child playing with grand father in snow

frozen beach view framed with trees

father and daughter on a frozen jetty

father and daughter playing in snow

a child lying in snow wearing ski clothing

The best clothing to play out in freezing weather

mum and daughter in freezing Finland and smiling

mother and daughter playing in snow in Finland

mum cuddling daughter in freezing outdoors

We did pop inside every once in a while to warm up our toes and cheeks, and then it was out in the snow again! 

The cold really does hit you. Your breathing is more laboured. Your nose and cheeks feel a pinch and burn. Your breath creates little droplets on your scarf and starts freezing over. Probably the worst thing that affected the photographer me that I am though was that my camera kept running out of charge. I had to dig the batteries out every once in a while and warm them in my hand... But when you are having fun it is a small price to pay. We run around in the snow, dug snow holes, hacked ice, had a lightsaber jedi fight... As you do.

And then after an hour or so it was time to go inside and de-frost. 

So yes, you can play out when it is freezing. Even if it is -24 Celsius. And it will be just as fun as any other time, although it might not be for a very long time!

What is the coldest temperature you have experienced? 

24 January 2017

How we finally cleared the living room toy chaos: Tidy Books Sorting Box

Right before Christmas I got a new stacking toy storage box for review - The Sorting Box from Tidy Books. I am a big fan of Tidy Books. I've written about their bookcase and how it can help encourage kids to read, and I  reviewed their Book Box too. Now I am reviewing our third Tidy Books item - their stackable toy storage boxes. Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Tidy Books.

From a purely aesthetic point of view, it is nice to have a few items by the same maker. Much easier to match them than items from different suppliers. Because of ease, and because we are not sure which room they will move to in the future I have chosen all our Tidy Books items in white. 

This review could not have come at a better time. For quite a while we have been struggling with the endless mountains of toys, everywhere in our living room. It didn't take long to set the boxes up and it was pretty easy. Especially for me ha ha as I was working while my husband set them up. It looked quite simple though when standing on the sidelines!

So once we set the boxes up, we set to clearing the living room. We managed to clear away a lot of these little toys we have accumulated over the last year or so we have lived here. You can see in the pictures how many toys fit in. I liked that there were smaller fabric boxes inside, so you could sort the toys in different categories. We dedicated one section for small character toys, one for all kinds of cakes and cups and eating toys, and one for musical instruments and musical toys. 

We got two of the Sorting Boxes, and a lid. These are priced separately, with the boxes retailing at £59 a pop and the lids for £12. You can stack the boxes, maximum two at a time. There are a few different colours, like dark and light greys and natural, so you could mix and match them to get a bit of interest. For these toy storage boxes I was toying with the idea of getting them in a combination of greys and whites, to go with our grey living room... Having a  dark grey and a light grey box with a dark grey lid would have also been a nice look!

They are quite easy for kids to use independently as they are light. However, depending on which toys you store inside them, they might become a bit heavier to handle when stacked. I would say older kids are perfectly fine moving these, and for pre-schoolers you might want to supervise it in case they drag them around or drop them accidentally. 

All in all, I have been really happy with these toy storage boxes from Tidy Books and would recommend them to others too. I have been really pleased with the quality of all our Tidy Books items and love them! 

What kind of solutions do you have for storing toys? 

14 January 2017

Feeling anxious about the primary school application now...

So it is time to send off the primary school applications. We have been racking our brains with the question: Are we making the right decision? 

I'm from a completely different cultural background. In my home country, the school you go to is the one you live closest to. If you do not have any special needs, it is as simple as that. It is a bit different at secondary school and college ages, where you might choose to apply to a specialist school if you are that way inclined. I for example went to a special performing arts college, because I did music. 

But here in UK the school choices seem so important. So many people get swept into it, and sometimes I feel like people think that whatever primary school you go to will determine how well you do in later life. In London especially it can get crazy. I hear all the time of streets that appreciate in value because they happen to fall into a catchment area of an outstanding school. Outstanding schools are like property gold dust, sprinkled by the fairy Ofsted-mothers...  

mum and daughter looking at each other in winter sun

So now we have been racked with thoughts about which school we send our little four year old princess to. We have seen three schools, and they are all in their own way good. In fact, as according to Ofsted they are all "good". 

There is the one that my husband had originally pegged as "The One". It is traditionally the school all parents in the local area aspire to, the school that always has been good. It is next to a big park the teachers use for some lessons. When you walk up there from our house, you walk through a our local park, over a road (with pedestrian lights) a few blocks of suburbian houses, and there you go. And we thought it would be easy for our daughter to walk there on her own when she is bigger.    

Then there is the school which is also good, but a bit further away. My husband figured that would be a good back-up choice. When we went to view it, I liked it, but I wasn't in awe. It was big and felt a bit like a rabbit-warren with many many small rooms. We would have to take her there, as it is a bit too far and a bit too busy traffic wise to let your kid travel to alone. Then again, I loved that they had music lessons and other additional activities. We both consider those performing and creative activities to be really important.  

And then there is the school she goes to nursery in. This school has traditionally been the crummy school in our area. It has had it's chequered past. It is now and has been for about five years rated as good, but the many locals still remember its past. The school has put in a lot of effort in improving, and parents from the school tell me the change is marked. For us the biggest positive of this school is that our daughter has made very strong friends in the nursery, and most of these friends will attend this school. She knows the school area, it won't be new and scary for her. And I liked that the school is slightly smaller than the other too, with 90 kids in her year group, instead of 120. 

But there are some serious downsides. The school is close-by to a big road. The local area isn't exactly nice, and some of the crossings can be difficult even for an adult. It is somewhat likely that we will always do the school drop-off with her, although thankfully the school is very close to our home. 

mum and child sitting on beach rocks in winter

So what do we choose? Friends? Future independence? Fancy music lessons?

What really clinched the deal for us though is when my husband had a little chat with our daughter. 

He asked her would she like to go to a new school and make new friends, or stay in the same school with her best friend Bethany. 

And she said: "Hmmm, I think Bethany". 

So now the school we have selected for her as her first choice, is the last school. The school she has friends in. The school she knows. I know from experience how stressful it is to jump from one place to another. I did that three times during my primary school years. And if we can avoid that I rather would. 

And of course. The decision might be just made for us by the whatever randomised features finally end up deciding which kid goes where. We have five choices we have added, of which the last one I've never even heard of. And I am really hoping she gets to stay with her friends. 

What did you think when choosing a primary school for your children?

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