Goalllll!: Mothercare Junior Goal review

Mothercare Junior GoalA quick garden kick about has become a bit of an after-work ritual – weather and work permitting. I love the fact we can all have a bit of a run around together, with Scrip pretending to be mummy’s team or daddy’s team, alternately. And my husband enjoys it even more (he’d be happy playing football all day, every day). So Scrip was delighted when I was able to review this garden Junior Goal from Mothercare.

It’s a good size – not too tiny for growing children but not dominating the garden – and it was easy to put together. The net was a little fiddly to attach and needed a gentler touch than my impatient husband! It would have been easier if the instructions were just for this type rather than three different goals, as that made it a little confusing. But all in all it probably took about 20 minutes to put together. So even keen footballers can wait that long to take their penalties.

Scrip even told my sisters she wanted to be a footballer when she grew up, so I think she’s enjoying using it! We’ll get a cover for it for wetter weather so it lasts a fair few football seasons, but at the moment it’s tucked away by the hedge for quick access. And as you can see, it doubles up as a useful bar for aspiring walkers.

Thank you from my whole football team, Mothercare! The Junior Goal is £29.99.

NOTHS: Christmas has got Scrip and Baby D’s names all over it!

My lovely sister donned her jingle bells for a preview of the notonthehighstreet Christmas collection this week. Here are her highlights. 

Anything personalised was always a big hit with me when I was little (remember those catalogues filled with pages of personalised coloured pens and pencils?) and if Scrip and Baby D are anything similar, NOTHS have got this aunty’s Christmas shopping sorted!

Tree decorations, wooden zoos, pyjamas, tents, dolls houses and Christmas stockings – you name it, you can have that special name put on it!

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A personalised tent will keep those furry friends safe

There’s a cushion for the cat, a monogrammed chef’s apron for the big chef, a kitchen for the little chef – and a coffee pot for the whole family.

Oh, and if it’s a baby bear or a little badger you’re buying for, they’re covered too!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Baby bears can keep snuggly in this sweet sweater

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Cute cubs cuddle up in this charming playsuit

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There’s no mistaking the owner of this beautiful dolls house

They'll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

They’ll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

Original tree decorations

Original tree decorations – flamingos, pineapples and cactuses

Coffee

Personalisation gets grown-up!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Christmas is looking beautiful at notonthehighstreet.com’s Christmas in July 2016

Capturing all the charm of Disney – Courage & Kind clothes

Courage & Kind clothesHow many Disney DVDs do you have – a whole library or a choice few? A friend of mine has the entire back catalogue, I think, in all their technicolor glory. Scrip would certainly like a few more and she cherishes the ones she has. I still enjoy them, too. I can easily be persuaded to sit with her and watch Tangled or Cinderella – much more so than My Little Pony.

So why doesn’t that magic translate onto Disney clothes? Not the replica princess dresses but everyday items. Scrip adores her Frozen PJs but they’re really not very charming. Likewise t-shirts and jumpers. So how about these Courage & Kind clothes – aren’t they beautiful? These are from the Alice in Wonderland range and I love how they’ve created clothes which are just as magical as the film.

The dress is gorgeous with a beautiful and clever Alice-inspired pattern, and the cardigan has little felt Queen of Hearts pockets. I’m trying to save these two for a family party but I’m coming under a lot of pester power from Scrip who just wants to wear them all the time.

All of the Courage & Kind clothes are inspired by the classic cartoons but don’t just slap an image of the hero or heroine on the front. They use patterns, imagery and styling in original, interesting ways, creating outfits that charm the parents as much as their children. There’s a boys’ and girls’ range too. They’d also make fantastic presents.

They’re an investment rather than every day, but they’re beautifully crafted and fit well. In fact I’d love some adult versions, please! I know I’m not the only one, judging by the reaction on Instagram.

PS – I love the name! ‘Have courage and be kind’ has got to be my favourite Disney life motto.

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Haven or Hell – 7 spaces to embrace with kids

Haven or Hell with kidsLast weekend was a family one with grandparents, in-laws and Scrip and D’s cousin staying nearby. Just 17 months apart, the girls played together so well while Baby D padded behind, only being distracted by anything that looked like a ball, a coin or a stick…

An unsettled Sunday meant we headed out for the day to the Avon Valley Country Park, which was good fun. Despite the dry forecast it started to rain, so we made a beeline for the the indoor picnic area. A stark, temporary structure, I would have previously shunned this particular spot. Now, with soggy children in tow, it was a haven.

That made me think how I now see other spaces in a totally different light, post-children. Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. The supermarket cafe – once firmly avoided, now embraced. Good source of food bribes and generally offers a pretty cheap lunchbox.
  2. Service stations – formerly a necessity to be endured, now a little light at the end of a long tunnel (particularly if you tend to inhabit the M25 or A30 as frequently as we do).
  3. Petrol stations – ditto, on a smaller scale. A chance to stretch legs and stock up on chocolate buttons.
  4. WH Smith’s magazine/comic aisle – all that colour, all those cartoon characters, all that cheap plastic. So many gleeful smiles.
  5. Soft play – the noise, the smelly socks, the chaos…and the yelps of delight from children as soon as they enter. Although I still avoid busy times where possible and I follow my husband’s soft play survival guide.
  6. Ikea – and we haven’t even tried the creche yet! Children young and old seem to enjoy playing pretend houses and that’s before they’ve even got to the play area. I challenge you to try and leave without an oversized toy in tow.
  7. Pets at Home – is it just me or is this shop a great mini zoo/wildlife park for those of us who don’t even have pets? Just don’t try and feed the rabbits…

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In memory of Jo Cox

I sat down today to write a blog
Just a few thoughts about life through the fog
About work, about children, about my day
But then the news took my words away
I didn’t know Jo Cox, the female MP
Whose life was cut short so terribly
I know of her actions, her incredible drive
Her desire for peace, keeping hope alive
I know she has a husband whose recent statement
Was so touching and so eloquent
Also two little children who are far too small
To suffer so terribly from this all
What can we say? It makes no sense
There can be no amends, no recompense
No alternative parent, alternative wife
Just a void for the rest of their life
No replacement for her powerful voice
Trying to do good, giving positive choice
Attempting to bring the world together
Then suffering this now and gone forever
I hope in her name we can carry on
To overcome the hatred; it must be gone
And in the meantime we will celebrate
Her vast achievements, before this fate
A mother, a wife, a female MP
So special, so vibrant, an inspiration to me.

A visit to The American Museum in Britain

American MuseumThe draw of the museum worksheet seems to be strong with Scrip at the moment, luckily. The American Museum in Claverton, just outside of Bath, went one better with a backpack full of activities handed over when we arrived. There are three age-related options – hers was suitable for 4+ years and she loved the little grizzly bear glove puppet who popped out when she unzipped the bag and helped us along the way.

The museum is set in an old manor house – Claverton Manor – in stunning grounds with views around the countryside and down to the River Avon. There’s plenty of parking and a good cafe on the site, plus a gift shop that sells more than just bright, unrelated plastic toys (although I’m sure there were a few of those as well). The museum charts American culture and history from early settlers to present-day with pictures, videos, hands-on displays and period rooms recreated.

The trail booklet inside the backpack guided us around the displays and there was something to do in many of the rooms along the way – ranging from a magnifying sheet to spot something close up, to a little wooden town to build, to a puzzle inspired by one of the beautiful collection of American quilts. She seemed to really enjoy it.

The trail was just the right length and left enough time and energy to have a quick look at the American Toy Story display (on until October 2016). She recognised some of the toys but the best bit was trying on toy costumes and drawing your favourite to add to the wall. Freed from his carrier Baby D seemed to enjoy crawling around here as well.

It’s a shame we hadn’t left any time for exploring the gardens as it’s in a beautiful location and I would have loved to look around. There was also a concert in the afternoon. But unfortunately nap time for D was calling and I think we may just have tired out Scrip as well.

As with anything I visit with small children I vowed to come back alone and actually read the captions of the displays as it was really interesting and a lot of it, moving. And with such a beautiful museum in a breathtaking location I think I may just make it.

More on the American Museum website.

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We’ve also visited the London Transport Museum, braved central London with a toddler and here’s my London (children’s activities) Bucket List.

My irks with home working

Home WorkingIt’s been a tough couple of weeks, with yet more change and adjustments that need to be made, some much bigger than others. One of the positives (I’m starting to over-use that word) is Baby D’s new nursery which has so far gone well. I say new as after just a week’s notice (!) his first nursery closed its doors eight weeks after he started, and we had to find another one pronto and get him fully settled in. Thankfully, day one at nursery two went very well (despite the over-tiredness in the boy I put to bed an hour or so ago).

With both children in childcare full time, I had a day to work, work, work. I’m enjoying working for myself (although I have to say I’m now over the initial euphoria of being at home with a hot coffee and a laptop screen not being pawed at or slammed shut).

We’re creating a home office but in the meantime it’s the kitchen table, once the breakfast things have been cleared away. There are so many positive parts (that word again) to working for myself and I sometimes pinch myself that it’s actually happening. However, there are also the niggles that only come to light once you start. Here are a few things that have made me wish it wasn’t just me here today:

The printer – I consider myself reasonably tech savvy but I fail to be able to default to the right printer (why do I have a list of 15??), print on the right side of the paper or push page 20 of said paper in far enough to keep on printing.
My new email account – where’s the IT support when you need it? Answer – thousands of miles away on a virtual chat (probably answering a lot of other queries at the same time). I can receive but I still can’t send, a week later…
The workman’s drill – do you choose a day when there are no children to trip over pipes and wires or have a full day of drilling when you’re trying to have a client phone call?
The coffee overload – hot, freshly brewed coffee? Mmmmm. How many cups can I enjoy without getting the shakes? Not as many as I used to I realise as I bounce to the door to greet the postman manically.
The housework – not the temptation to spend my whole time doing it – the opposite. I feel like I need to make every moment of work count so I end up with a house messier than the days with the children plus a basket full of wet washing.
The mum guilt – it’s still there, niggling away. This isn’t a vanity project – I’m earning money for the family as well as doing something I hope I’m good at. Plus hopefully setting a good example for my children. But working from home feels the same as going out to work – you still get those moments where you feel you should be with your children, rational or not.

However on balance what a privilege to be able to do this and hopefully fit my work around my life rather than the other way around. I’m off to pick up the children (once the coffee shakes have subsided).

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Rainbow boards – a splash of colourful fun

Rainbow Boards ReviewDo your children remind you of yourself when you were young? Scrip definitely does me, in so many ways. Particularly her imaginary play – she’s always acting out make believe games. Sometimes she brings Baby D into her role plays (much to his bemusement!), sometimes she’s at the dinner table with toys, cars or even the salt and pepper pots and sometimes I find her in a corner of the sitting room with teddies lined up, chatting away.

She’s just started to play ‘teachers’ which was one of my favourite games when I was little. And now she’s got a new prop in the form of a bright, sunshine yellow Rainbow Board – dry wipe board on one side, felt pin board on the other.

As she’s not yet at school she didn’t understand at first how to ‘teach’ using the board but she loved being let loose with the wipe board pens. There’s a nice big area to write on and wipe off again (half the fun) and there’s also the pin board. She loved the responsibility of pinning things on with drawing pins and soon found some drawings, post cards and birthday cards. Plus random pieces of cardboard (we have a lot of those).

Her new, bigger room may be fast filling up with things but when something new is as colourful as this, I’m not complaining. It’s so much nicer than a plain white board and Rainbow Boards come in green, yellow, pink, blue or orange – and all attractive shades.

Teacher Boards also sell notice boards and wipe boards on their own as well as glass boards made of hardened safety glass in a variety of colours which would be nice for a kitchen.

There’s a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. This one’s large but it’s easy to store as it’s flat. Not that she’s letting me store it at the moment – not while there are teddies to teach.

Thank you Teacher Boards for adding a welcome splash of colourful fun to Scrip’s room.

The Yellow Rainbow Board we trialled was £65 excluding VAT.

A guide to turning one – by Baby D

A guide to turning oneBaby D’s first birthday has been and gone with all its ripped tissue paper, cake crumbs and crawling in and out of cardboard boxes. We were joined by family from both sides of the country and it was a lovely day, despite some worrying news hanging over us.

With Scrip, turning one meant so many things and some were similar to Baby D but some totally different. I keep getting told not to compare the two but she’s my only other baby template so it’s hard not to. With D, one year seems to have been a real marker and he’s been frantically upskilling in the last few weeks so he could hit the milestone with a bang.

So this is Baby D’s guide to turning the ripe old age of one year old:

  1. Reveal your lightning quick crawling and start pulling up on everything – particularly relatives. Remember, walking’s for wimps (but if ‘helpful’ people encourage you to try to walk, respond with stiff legs and an instant sitting position).
  2. Use this occasion as an opportunity to eat as much as you can (don’t forget, honey and runny eggs are now fair game). If there’s a party, polish off crisps and at least a few pieces of cake and hoover up any dropped crumbs quickly and efficiently.
  3. Grown ups are likely to be distracted with ribbon and nibbles so now’s the time to try and get into those places you’ve only ever dreamt of going. Like the understairs cupboard, toolbox or a peep inside the (hot) oven [yes, this happened].
  4. New toys are for exploring – namely banging together or throwing, whatever kind of toy they are. Ride-ons are for pulling up on or pushing over. And it’s important to move on from each toy with record speed.
  5. Lull your parents into a false sense of security with a few nights of sleeping through around your first birthday (‘we’ve finally cracked it!”) and then bring them down to earth with a bump the day after.
  6. Your sister is now fair game for hitting (hilarious), pulling hair (even better) or wiping your nose on (convenient).
  7. And whatever you do and however much mischief you cause, know that your family couldn’t love you any more if they tried.

Happy one year Baby D. 🙂

 

#MySundayPhoto – 10th April 2016

Dandelions and baby

This was the first time Baby D has ventured off the rug and into the wilds of our garden. The grass hasn’t been dry enough to cut since we moved in so it’s overgrown by normal standards, but the children love it. Scrip keeps picking dandelions and daisies for ‘Mother’s Day’ (bit late!) and D is enjoying the feeling of the grass. A happy, sunny afternoon this week.

OneDad3Girls