Tags: Silent Sunday
I could tell you but that would kind of screw with the anonymity wouldn't it?
Well you're here so presumably you know that then?
5'10" or 9". It does depend on how weary I'm feeling.
Long highlighted blonde.
Normally red because I go to bed too late and wake up too early. If I had slept properly then they'd be a kind of grey/green/blue colour.
Is this your first blogging conference?
Nope, I went to Britmums Live! last year as well. I've also been to the Tots100 Christmas weekend and a Butlin's Ambassadors' weekend.
Are you attending both days?
Well I'm not going all that way for half an hour! Many thanks to my awesome sponsor Orchard Toys for allowing me to go this year. I couldn't be more proud to represent them, they're perfect for me.
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2013?
Seeing my blogging and twitter friends, catching up with them for more than an hour, meeting new people, building relationships with new brands, learning a bit in the sessions, stalking Kirstie Allsopp and hearing the woman from T.K.Maxx try and persuade me to wear a dress again.
What are you wearing?
I have no idea yet! Smarter on the Friday, but still casual. My Birkenstocks on the Saturday with comfy stuff! No-one cares what anyone wears anyway.
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2013?
Chat to my friends, all of them. My biggest regret from last year is not talking to Kerry more; sitting in the T.K.Maxx lounge with her was the last time I saw her. And I miss her.
Tell us one thing about you that not everyone knows:
MY NAME! Mwha ha ha! But it's not going to happen!
Ok, something more serious? Um… nope I got nothing.
I'm linking up to the 'Britmums: I'm going to Britmums Live!' linky.
Since discovering how good our Step2 water table is as a centre for Small World play, I've been keen to come up with different scenarios to stimulate his imaginative play. Using Happyland style toys has always been difficult for him, as it is for many other children. Contrary to popular belief children don't always know how to play, especially with imaginative toys promoting role-play; they do need guidance to show how they can re-enact situations they encounter. And likewise the benefits of Small World play are massive as it allows them to work through stories from books, real-life events or the concepts on a television programme for example.
When I set out a Small World scene, I usually have the characters doing something which prompts The Boy to continue their actions and provides a play opportunity straight away. I allow him to play freely for a short amount of time first of all before stepping in and (teacher talk now) 'facilitating his play', gently guiding the direction and providing him with scenarios to process. We play together for another five-ten minutes and then I step back and let him play freely.
He's still not great at engaging to be honest, and that might just be because he isn't geared towards imaginative play at the moment. However, I'm not going to stop providing him with the opportunities and encouraging him.
Small World: Building Site
I have used the Happyland construction site we've had for some time, along with a few other diggers that we have, and placed the crane on the lower level. I poured sand all around the bottom to hide the plastic base, then put sand on the upper level and a pile of gravel (this is actually spare fishtank gravel) in a corner to be moved by the diggers. I placed the various play figures and vehicles around the table, engaging each on in an action.
He had great fun with this and spent ages scooping up the gravel, pouring it into the back of a vehicle and then transferring this down to the crane.
In total this activity took ten minutes to set up, and provided hours of fun.
With the revival in recent years of crafting as a hobby, having a dedicated space within the home where both adults and children can enjoy pursuing various crafts is a great idea. This will ensure that other areas of the home are free from the all the paraphernalia involved in different crafts and become something of a bolthole for those who are enthusiastic about their hobby.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a room to set aside for a hobby but there are ways of creating this extra space if needed. A summerhouse in the garden that is properly insulated can be used for crafting all year round, or a box room can easily be converted into a studio. If the room is to be used for more than one person then a spare bedroom is the obvious choice for a crafter’s room.
Once the room has been chosen it is necessary to think about some of the essential facilities that it is going to need. If the craft makes use of electrical equipment, such as sewing machines, are there adequate power points? Is there enough natural light getting into the room? All of these points are important and if the space available does not meet the criteria then it is a good idea to think about alternatives. Can the room be rearranged so that the power sockets are more conveniently placed? Can lamps that simulate daylight be used in addition to the existing natural light?
Furnishing a craft room
One of the main points for a craft room is adequate storage. Adequate cupboard space is essential and a drawer unit is a good idea, particularly if the room is being used for more than one craft. Everything can be organised and kept separately until needed. It also ensures that at the end of the day everything can be tidied away properly and found easily again the next day.
A large workspace is also going to be needed, particularly if more than one person is using the room. Dining tables are a good choice for a workspace as they can seat several people and offer plenty of space to work on, no matter what the craft choice. They also tend to be fairly easy to clean but can be protected with waterproof cloth if needed.
There are many different options depending upon the type of craft that is chosen. Children’s crafts will inevitably include items such as paints and various different types of paper, but added to this can be crafting scissors (child-friendly of course!), decorative paper punches, paper glue and stamps. For children, opt for the long rolls of plain paper as they last for a long time and are not expensive to buy.
Other craft essentials might include lamps to help out when natural daylight is not enough, a sewing machine, fabrics and yarns. Ensure that everything that might be needed is to hand as there is nothing worse than getting halfway through a project and discovering that it cannot be finished!
This is the bottom of my garden…
…and I am deeply unhappy with it.
In theory it's a great area; a decent sized patio, a fabulous triangular pergola (I'm still in awe of my husband for working out how to build this, and then doing so), a beautiful cherry blossom tree, sheltered from the wind which blows up the 'tunnel' created by living in a long street of parallel houses. All of these things should mean it's a perfect area and it's certainly what I had in mind when I designed it.
However, as you can see it's a dumping ground. The Boy is far too big to play with those toys and we have nowhere else to put them. And because I'd like to grant him the joy of a sibling at some point, I refuse to get rid of them. Therefore they stay cluttering up the bottom patio and being no good to anyone. Furthermore, it doesn't get any sun and as a result it's not the idyllic space I'd hoped for. And that cherry tree has pushed up the paving slabs around it.
So you can see that it's just a space which is. And it's a waste.
I am planning on changing the garden around (yet again) in light of the fact that The Boy now has no climbing equipment in it. Well he does, but I'm not entirely sure that climbing up the side of the slide is the correct use for it. Nor is that what a swing is for. And so I've been investigating climbing frames (particularly the TP Explorer 2) which might be suitable for him and not take up too much space in the garden, although the only problem is that they unfortunately do take up a lot of space because an allowance has to be given for 'fall space'.
If only you knew how many times I've stood in the garden trying to work out how to fit it all in without changing too much of the structure.
Mr. TBaM and I have come to the conclusion that the best place would be along the side of the garden (as he still needs lawn space to run around and play ball games in), which means that we need to relocate his Little Tikes house from the beautifully laid, year old patio in the same spot. It's going to go down to the bottom of the garden on half of the patio above, the other half of the patio has already been taken up to provide the tree with more space for its roots, and to relocate the compost bin.
I'm also looking to set up two more things down in newly reclaimed area of garden; a mud pie kitchen and a willow den (somehow incorporating the trunk of the cherry tree).
Mr. TBaM has no idea that I want to build a willow den at the bottom of the garden, but I think it's a fun thing to have and I can just imagine The Boy sitting and reading his books in it in the future.
Either way, we need to invest some money in some new gardening equipment to help us achieve this new play area and so I've been searching for a discount on some quality garden products. A quick search online turned up several stores selling outdoor play equipment, and some voucher code site offers deals on high quality equipment. I've always said that I wanted to have a garden that was a haven for our almost-four year old little boy to play in, but that needs to be achieved safely and with plenty to stimulate his imagination and play.
And did I mention that he's having a party in the garden for his fourth birthday in a month. And of course I want it finished by then.
As a teacher I know only too well the worth of a sticky bit of paper for note-making. Before I had The Boy, my desk was organised with coloured Post-it notes, and they are also an excellent resource to use in lessons during collaborative discussion work.
However, I'd never thought of using them to create a piece of art with The Boy until I was asked by 3M to see what I could do with their new Post-it Notes Colour Cubes, packs of Post-it Notes in a range of vibrant hues. They sent me a selection and a canvas and asked me to get creative on a "miserable rainy day when no one wants to go outside!" How fortuitous that today happened to be just one of those days.
So faced with this wonderful range of bright coloured Post-it notes, mostly shades of blue, The Boy and I decided to make an 'Under The Sea' picture.
- First, we layered the different shades of blue all over the canvas (we did have to use a small amount of PVA glue as the canvas was the most resistant surface in the world!)
- We also used the smaller packs of Super Sticky fully adhesive Post-it notes to add some variation in the colours.
- Next we ripped up the different shades of green to make seaweed and underwater foliage and layered these from halfway down to the bottom, overlapping to add depth.
- Finally I used the brightly coloured pink, orange and yellow Post-it notes to create some fish, by drawing a design on the back and cutting them out. The Boy then placed these in between the leaves and swimming freely about in the water.
And there we have it; one canvas (or piece of card), a selection of Post-it notes in different colours, one hour and one very happy little boy.
If you're looking for some more ideas on creating art with sticky bits of paper, have a look at the Post-it UK Facebook page, which includes some excellent examples.
This is a sponsored post in connection with 3M.
Growing up in south Wales means that I have a heads-up on the types of places and activities that are good to take The Boy on weekends; there's now't as good as personal experiences and happy memories as a reference bank to fun!
One of the places that I didn't really experience much as a child was Tredegar House in Newport, probably due to a mixture of cost, subject matter (my mum doesn't like history as she doesn't like to dwell in the past) and distance. I do remember going there once when I was about eight years old, and have a photo to prove it, but haven't been since. And that was a long time ago.
Having a media pass to the National Trust for the year, and being a NT blogger, means that we are now visiting places that we wouldn't have thought of going to before; Tredegar House is one of those. It was taken over by the National Trust last year and since then there have been changes to make it more interactive and interesting to children, something I've noticed in every National Trust property we've been too.
And so we decided to visit Tredegar House last Saturday when they were running a special event to promote the 50 Things campaign. The irony is that we spent so long playing on the lawn with the old fashioned games, having a picnic and exploring the house, that we didn't have much time to try and tick off some of our 50 Things. It's just as well we're making good progress anyway.
Spring had definitely sprung; the brilliant sunlight was glistening through the freshly budding leaves, casting dappled shadows on the lush lawn and providing a veritable paradise to play on. From the huge conifer, spreading its arms over the lawn protectively, hung tyre-horses swinging back and fore with the giggles of The Boy and other delighted children. The huge open space provded him with the ideal opportunity to fly his kite with just enough breeze to lift it.
And after we'd enjoyed our picnic lunch and explored the partly restored manor house, we managed to find a cracking tree to explore inside. The only problem was… how to get up to it? Well, that's what daddies are for, isn't it?
As part of my acceptance that September will happen and that The Boy will have to go to school, I've been starting to think about moving him out of his beautiful nursery into a big boy bedroom. Only starting to think about it however, but the realisation is there.
I've been toying with a variety of themes for his room, and as I'll be painting a mural on his walls it has to be something that can last a few years; I really don't want to have to repaint a very complicated picture after only a year or two. There have been a variety of ideas from a zoo, space, the countryside, pirates, the sea, a farm, the wild west with cowboys and then back to space again. Knowing me, I'll probably try and fit all of these in to the small room and completely overpower it! I have a vision of a landscape (of some sort) and the sky fading up to a darker blue with a rocket zooming through the stars and planets. I just hope it won't be too much!
Of course the added complication comes when finding soft furnishings to match. Many of the bedding sets I've seen are quite stereotypically boyish, which is not The Boy. I definitely prefer the hand-drawn style prints that are available as they look more child friendly. However, finding curtains and bedding to match is very difficult and leaves me to think about buying a ream of fabric and making it. This Gary curtain fabric turquoise fabric seems ideal as it has the watercolour and hand-drawn appearance that I've been hankering after, plus it isn't too boyish.
I think a picture like this would make an ideal mural for a young boy's bedroom. The only question is where I can still have rockets zooming through space three foot above a cowboy and his horse?
This is a featured post.
Receiving the invitation to become Butlin's Ambassadors was a dream come true. We'd been on a weekend Christmas break in December 2011 to the Bognor Regis resort, and pretty much fell in love with the hotel and all the facilities. It was around the time that I was chosen to become an Ambassador that I'd been thinking of booking another holiday there anyway, so the timing was perfect. We went for our five-day break in March and had such a magical time, that in the car on the way home I whipped out my phone and booked us on the special Ambassadors' weekend that was due to take place three weeks later.
That was last weekend, and if possible we had an even better time in three days than we did on our week-long break. There are two reasons for this.
- Laura from 'Tired Mummy of Two';
- The Skyline Gang.
When we went on our break in March, we had been so overwhelmed with all the outdoor and indoor activities in the very full programme that we didn't even contemplate booking in for activity sessions or trying to squash in the evening performances. This was a huge mistake, but easy to do. Laura took us under her very experienced Butlin's wing and booked us in to activity and craft sessions over the weekend, not a vast selection but enough to show us the plethora available. Everyone should have a Laura when they go on their Butlin's break.
For those not in the know (and if you've never been to Butlin's you'd be forgiven for not having a clue what I'm going on about), The Skyline Gang are a group of six performers (three women, three men) who make up the resident Butlin's own performance team; you'll only find them in Butlin's resorts (unlike external shows). Bud, Sprout, Pip, Candi, Mimi and Dude all have their own rainbow colour, and a very distintive personality. And they are magical.
On the Saturday evening we nipped into the Skyline Pavilion and assumed our position to watch the half-hour long performance of The Skyline Gang. The Boy was captivated, and to be fair he wasn't the only one. All six of the characters can sing, act and dance, and they did so without stopping for the entire performance. In this show, Candi loses her colour and her friends set out to ensure she returns to her characteristic pink. The Boy hasn't stopped talking about it all week.
After the show, we stayed around for a few minutes to meet the gang and this is where we realised their worth. All six stayed in character throughout the meet and greet session, and they were amazing. They quickly picked up on the children's names, sized up their confidence and approached them accordingly. There wasn't someone ushering them along, they didn't try and escape; The Skyline Gang stayed and engaged with the children until it was the infants who'd had enough. The Boy met everyone of the group and he fell in love with them there and then. His first ever hero-worship.
The next morning we went to our first activity; Circus Skills with The Skyline Gang. The Boy settled down in the centre of the room with the other thirty or so children and they all held onto the parachute while being assigned a Skyline Gang member's name. And then I saw his little lip going. He glanced around and a frantic 'mummy' was issued. Before I could get to him, Sprout was up and there, trying to reassure him that everything was ok. And he remembered his name from the night before. Out of all those children that he met that weekend, he remembered one three year old little boy's name. And he wasn't the only one. Because actually, all of The Skyline Gang tried to engage him and reassure him that he'd have fun. (I don't know what it was that upset him, I suspect he became confused about being given a different name, not realising what it meant). He soon settled down into rotating around the carousel of activities learning how to hula-hoop with Pip, juggle scarves with Candi, use a diablo with Dude and bounce a yo-yo with Bud. His favourite activities were walking on 'stilts' with Sprout and spinning plates with Mimi (mainly because he could do both of these easily).
The most amazing thing to me was how patient The Skyline Gang were with him, and how genuinely attentive. They were very tolerant of the three year old child who'd sneaked into a session intended for children over five, and they really helped him to complete the tasks.
It is little wonder that these are the former Redcoats who often progress onto the West End stage having been spotted by talent scouts; the way that they constantly stay in character and bounce around the stage for thirty minutes astounds me. Well done Butlin's on persevering with a good old-fashioned variety act with added caring and enthusiasm.