Kids and the Rugby World Cup

We love rugby, Mr A used to play and with a two National teams to support the kids are able to witness great sportsmanship from their parents… well, sometimes.

With tickets to see two games (adults only – did you see the prices!?!?) we wanted to engage with the kids in something we love and enjoy. So, as well as being allowed to stay up late to watch the Opening Ceremony we also came across these books which have proved very popular. I’ve already mentioned our love of Mr Men books, so this was perfect reading material – those All Reds looked unbeatable until the Mr Men pulled out all the stops…. The Rugby Sticker book is great for all our mix of ages, and there are over 300 stickers, so it should last until the Final? The Official RWC Activity Book, is a little more indepth, there are a range of games, wordsearches and other more skilled activities, but there are also some stickers and genuinely interesting information about the history of the competition and the countries competing. We particularly enjoyed finding the national flags, and then decided to look up the national animals for some of our favourites.

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5 more (mostly free) activities we have enjoyed…

  • Designing our own rugby shirts, just pens and scrap paper but surprisingly absorbing.
  • Creating a family Hakka
  • Made a chart to fill in with team names up to the Final
  • Playing sock rugby in the garden
  • Creating our dream rugby team by cutting up magazines… these were the kids magazines – I’m not convinced Tree Fu Tom would make a great Tight Head?

Enjoy the match x

Water World Stoke – Review

We came to a family agreement that if we did a bit of school work to cover the 28 days of school we were going to miss over the Summer holidays, then a great treat would happen on 2nd Sept – the last day of freedom.

After only a few seconds of debate the kids (in a rare moment of solidarity) decided they would like to have a day at a waterpark. And so a sticker chart was hastily created, named and stuck to the wall.

I was completely amazed that this worked! We are all very motivated by stickers in our family, but even so, this lasted for the entire six weeks. We slowly managed to fill each of the 28 boxes – the rules were you had to do reading, writing, maths or science… there were occasions when this was followed in the most creative sense, but it worked well and good fun was had by all.

So – the day dawned, and the charts were completed – so, as promised we booked a family ticket to Water World in Stoke. We are luckyl to be near to Splash Landings at Alton Towers too, but as we have been there before we thought we’d try somewhere new…

Compared to Splash Landings, and the pool at Centre Parcs (also local) Water World is smaller, and older. However, with very small children this isn’t really a problem, as it is much easier to keep an eye on them, and the facilities were well adapted for small ones. We loved the small flumes just for under 8’s, and the ‘bumpy’ slide. We also really enjoyed being in the outside pool with the bubbles, which we only discovered by accident. The pool is a bit tired, and showing signs of needing more investment, there are cracked tiles and the changing area can only be described as smelly – but of course the kids couldn’t have cared less about such things.

The only real disappointment of they day was the food – it was pretty awful from all angles; quality, quantity, choice and location. You are not supposed to bring your own food, so you are really held at ransom, the veggie options required a longer wait but as the queue was long already and you start to get cold quickly I just went for a quicker, but less filling option. The staff were under pressure and uninterested in great customer service.

You are guaranteed at least 3 hours in the pool, and we were there for longer, it became extremely busy and about 4 hours was our limit. I would recommend getting there as it opens to have a time when you can enjoy the facilities fully and without long queues. We would go there again, but as the kids get older I suspect they would enjoy other waterparks more, and the costs were similar.

Dyson Disappointment

I’m not one to complain much… but this is a rant…  After nearly 18 years of loyal service our beloved Dyson Animal finally had to be put to sleep, the last straw was being used to clean up after our extension work – we have all been feeling the pain from the whole experience, but Dyson suffered particularly at their hands.

So, it was with some excitement that we looked at all the options for a new one – a shiny one with gadgets and a recoiling wire was chosen as it appeared to meet all our pet hair/storage/bad back needs. They are not cheap, and after the aforementioned extension we are trying not to over spend… but on our last experience 18 years makes it a pretty good deal all in all.

HOWEVER – there are so many annoying things about our new vacuum it’s turned into an object of great frustration. The most annoying thing is that it doesn’t reach the top of the stairs – I could be doing something wrong, but I feel competent and experienced enough to have worked it out by now, it just doesn’t. It also has the smallest joint between the suction and the ‘bin’ which is blocked by almost everything and requires the entire machine to be stripped down to clean it out. In a house with a dog and three kids, this means it is permanently blocked by something and because of the bad back, can only be sorted by Mr A – making it virtually impossible to vacuum.

Disappointment is a strange thing, luckily it’s not something I’m exposed to very much. It can take joy from everything it touches, and make you feel a fool. Such high hopes have been dashed, but too much money has been spent for a replacement… so the battle continues 🙁

Pregancy Files – Weeks 4-8

For some people there is still nothing to report at this stage, others will be throwing up day and night and feeling rubbish. Even if you have been pregnant before, each experience will be different so you can’t assume you know what’s coming. Most of us in the UK will need to book an appointment with a Midwife via our GP – they usually don’t want to see you until around Week 10 as in these early stages 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

This is a horrid subject to discuss, but it’s worth reflecting on just for a moment. Some women will have a miscarriage at a very early stage and not even know, it may just feel like a very heavy period. It may happen before you have even told friends and family (or just after :(). This is why who and when to tell your news needs to be thought through… We have always waited until after the first scan – around Week 12 to share our news ‘publicly’ this was after a sad experience our first time round. However, it’s likely you will want the kindness and support of your closest people whether things go well or not, so you may want to tell a few choice individuals. We have experienced this more than once, in January we miscarried twins at 11 weeks which we are still learning to come to terms with. There are lots of great professional support systems out there if you ever need them a good one in the UK is The Miscarriage Association. People will often talk about ‘losing’ a baby, which I really dislike as it makes me sound careless – I didn’t loose them, it wasn’t a choice.

If you have experienced a previous miscarriage you may be able to get an early ‘reassurance’ scan via your local EPAC (Early Pregnancy Assessment Centre), this will probably be in your local hospital.

On a more positive note, this is such an exciting time. So much is happening to the tiny life inside you, not much of which you will know about! There are lots of apps and websites around that you can sign up to for a weekly digest of what’s going on, they are likely to offer you vegetable and fruit sizes as a comparison to baby’s rapid growth and some photos of what baby looks like – in the very early stages it won’t look much like a baby so these can be a bit unnerving.

The most common experience at this stage is incredible tiredness, if you are able to just sleep when you can, if you care for others this is hard, but make sure you eat well, drink lots of water and rest as much as possible. If you are in the loo every few minutes, or throwing up they are all positive signs – really it will all be worth it in the end xx

Book Review – Princess Stay Awake

We’ve come to love Giles Paley-Phillips offerings, the characters are a bit more edgy than some picture books, and the stories a have a bit more ‘bite’ than others…

Princess Stay Awake is the tale of desperate parents attempting to get their toddler to go to bed… proving even Kings and Queens with all their resources can’t magic ways to a good sleep routine – having tried jesters, Sir Runsalot and even Wizard Wilf they are left with no option but to call in Grandma!

This is a great story for talking about why sleep is important, and also a lovely gift for a grandparent – or for them to read at bedtime and be the ‘hero’. The rhyme is very gentle and easy for the reader, the illustrations are great fun with lots of additional information to point out (we counted all the rabbits) to make the book good for more that one read.

It’s become a firm favourite in our house x

Inside Out – Movie Review

Mmm this is a tricky one – the premise of the movie itself is extraordinarily complicated – and how I feel about the experience is too! The story is about Riley, an 11 year old girl who has to move home and make major life changes, her experiences are expressed by the various ’emotions’ that she uses to make sense of the world, and these are characters in her head. The movie is able to explain feelings, memories, ageing, life changes and human interaction via the vehicle of a funny kids movie – which is pure genius. Big A and Middle A at 5 and 6 were able to understand the concepts and we’ve had some very interesting discussions since…

However, I would not recommend watching it in a heightened emotional state (in my case pregnancy hormones) as it’s is a real challenge to our own understanding of how we grow and change and what memories fade and which become our core values. I cried myself stupid for most of the second half of the film…

I think on reflection it’s a really beautiful story, but I’m not sure it’s quite the kids film it aims to be.