The Gallery: Green…

It’s amazing this time of year when all of a sudden the weather changes from Winter coat weather, to no coat weather, and this year it seemed to do that over night! My favourite thing though is when the leaves and blossoms start appearing on the trees again. The smells in the air always bring back memories of my childhood where I grew up in a tiny hamlet, and would just get up, go outside, and play out there until I was dragged in for meals or bed, every day!

It’s no surprise that my own children love being outside too, don’t all children? This picture was taken last week, when we met up with a group of friends who all have children the same age. There were 10 under 4s in total, and we chose this location to do our Easter egg hunt. Such a fun day! Pop over to this week’s Gallery to see more green pictures!


Silent Sunday…

How to Win an Argument…

Until recently, I always worried that my daughter would get overlooked when she starts school. She’s always seemed so timid around other children her age, and would just let other children push past her. I remember at a birthday party about 6 months ago, there was an entertainer who (naively) put a box of musical instruments down on the floor and told the 30 or so 3 year olds to help themselves. Everyone pushed past my daughter and she just let them, only to find that when she got there, there were no instruments left, and the entertainer did nothing to help, like for example asking one of the children who had taken 2 to give one up. I was really surprised in fact,  that only one parent actually did this!

What my daughter has however inherited, is her Daddy’s ability to never give up on an argument if she feels she is right! This was evident yesterday when my friend came round with her 2 children. Inevitably it wasn’t long before they all decided that despite the hundreds of toys available to them, they all needed the same one at the same time. My daughter had already managed to chastise my friend’s son for being ‘incapable of pretending’ when she told him a plastic scoop of ice cream was an Easter egg and he corrected her! My friend and I were both about to intervene on the latest argument, when we heard a little gem of a conversation going on. It turns out it was all over a dolly’s dummy:

My daughter (E): Can I have the dummy please, S?

My friend’s boy (S): No.

E: Why can’t I have it?

S: I want it.

E: Well it’s important that we share.

S: No, when you come to my house, you can play with my toys, and I’m at your house so I can play with yours!

E: (After a short pause) Ok then, we’ll take it in turns, and you’ve had your turn, so it’s my turn now, so can you give it to me please!

S, at this point dutifully handed it over. I think he saw little point in pursuing it as he knew my daughter would probably come up with another few reasons why he should do as she asked!

I guess I learned a lesson there that perhaps my little girl isn’t as timid as I thought, and perhaps I need to let her get on with things. Even aged 3 she can hold her own!

Waitrose: Service with a Smile!

I feel like every post I’ve done this week had been singing someone’s praises. That’s probably because each one has, but I couldn’t not write this post as it really did make my day.

Ever since that horrible day over a year ago when I was in Sainsbury’s with 2 tantruming children under 3, and I felt like doing the same as the lady in the advert who just gets down on the floor and joins in with them. What you don’t need at that time is a load of disgusted looks from women who are calmly going about their weekly shop with perfectly behaved children, looking rather smug. Ok, so I may have also been that woman on a few occasions too, but I finally snapped, and thought, that’s it. I haven’t done a supermarket shop since, and have instead opted for online shopping.

My husband was adamant he didn’t want to pay for someone to deliver our shopping (yes, he doesn’t do the shopping with 2 toddlers on his own!), so I took the plunge and ordered from Waitrose online, because they offer free delivery on orders over £50.

I have never looked back. Each week, a lovely lady brings my shopping to my door. She is helpful and friendly and we have banter each week. I think if I bumped into her at the shops I’d now happily stand and have a chat with her, and if she didn’t have work to do I’d happily ask her in for coffee and cake!

The food is fantastic quality too, even their Essential range. One of my concerns was that I might get sent food which was bruised or going out of date, the stuff which you wouldn’t pick up if you were shopping yourself, but this has never been the case. In fact, they have a policy that if the food only has a couple of days left on the date, you are given it for free, yes FREE!

It’s got to be said though, the reason I’m writing this today, is down to the customer service in Waitrose. Over the year or so they’ve been delivering my shopping there have been some mistakes, but only in the same way as when I did my own shopping (before I turned lazy!) that I would get home and realise I’d forgotten something. I have alsways been believed instantly and where necessary I have been refunded. Although I could have gone into the store to prove I was telling the truth, I have never been asked to.

Last week I received a letter to say thank you for my patience over the new website they launched a few weeks back. It was different, but really just required sitting down for an hour or so to find your way round it the first time. I’m easy to please, so a thank you was fine for me, but that’s not all, they also included a voucher which mounts up to £20 off my shopping over the next 4 weeks. Thank you very much! I gladly used my first voucher code for my shop which got delivered this morning.

I opened the door to my lovely, friendly lady. We sorted my shopping, checked the substitutions, then as I was signing, she disappeared and came back with this:

You would not believe how much this has brightened up my day! Obviously it’s good marketing because I’m telling everyone how wonderful they are, but no-one has ever given me all these things in one go before, so thank you Waitrose for putting me in such a happy mood all day, for restoring my faith that just being nice is sometimes enough, oh, and also for all that yummy food!

Imaginext Success!

I’m sure I’m not the only Mum who struggles every birthday and Christmas with what to buy my youngest child. The eldest is easy, as it’s a blank canvas each time, and we can just go with whatever she’s into. Also, being nearly 4, she’s now very vocal about dos and don’ts when it comes to present buying!

My son, however has just turned 2, he loves imaginative play, jigsaws, books, hurling himself into dangerous situations, basically the same things most 2 year olds enjoy. The trouble is, we’ve got most of the things he enjoys already, as we bought them a couple of years ago. Whenever anyone asks us what to buy for him, our answer has always been the same, as it’s the only thing we don’t already have: “Something for a boy!”

All the toys we had up until little boy came along were either unisex or feminine, and while he’s quite happy to play with them, we wanted to give him other options. He loves his garage, though spends most of his time standing on the heliport to give him easier access to the top of the sofa (an excellent place to roll from)!

He adores playing with his Sister’s doll’s house, and a friend suggested Playmobil and bought him a fab Police Station, so we went to Toys R Us to see if we could find something to add to it. I thought by doing this on a day  that the children were at nursery would mean we could get in and out quicker. However, I did go with my husband, and I kept losing him, only to find him each time in the Star Wars Lego section!

That said, and to cut a long story short, we never made it to the Playmobil section, as my husband stumbled across the Imaginext section. We’d never heard of it before, but as soon as hubby saw the Imaginext Batcave I knew we were going to be taking it home!

Of all the presents we’ve bought for our son, this was the biggest hit of all, he absolutely loved it. Yes, he prefers to have Fifi and the Flowertots operating the doors, and our daughter thinks that the jail is in fact a shower, but they will happily play with it together for a lot longer than they independently play with anything else. They even prefer it to watching the TV!

I don’t think youngsters really get gender specific toys, and that’s not why we necessarily wanted ‘boys’ toys’, it’s more so we have variety for both of the children, but while our daughter was making an ever expanding list of Disney Princess related products for her own birthday list, we were really struggling with what we could get for the little man, and this hit the spot perfectly. I love the fact that all the imaginative toys are mixed and matched. In just one morning, we saw the Police call Batman in for extra backup after the ‘villain’ was caught publically defecating. He was then sent to Madame Gazelle’s school so she could teach him, Peppa, and Fifi to do the right thing! We also witnessed a trip to the (Little People) zoo, on Grandpa Pig’s Train, and a breakdown for Daddy Pig’s car which resulted in needing essential maintenance at the local garage!

With minds like that, it’s no wonder that being a Mum brings with it so much enjoyment. I wonder what adventures are in store tomorrow?!

Happy Birthday!

With my children’s birthdays only 3 weeks apart (yes I know, I didn’t plan that too well!) and the fact hat my husband is away on a stag do the weekend of our 3 year old’s birthday (he’s back for her actual birthday, he wouldn’t miss that) and the fact that my ‘baby’ friends’ children all have their birthdays in May, we decided that this year they could have a joint birthday party.

Said birthday party happened at the weekend, and it was great fun. A lot of people said I was brave to have a big party, but I didn’t really think anything of it. I’m used to supervising 30+ teenagers on a daily basis, 25 under 4s will be fine too, right…?

The theme was Disney, and it was held at our local gym, in the studios. We spent the week preparing, getting all the Disney themed party bits and bobs, and we also decided that rather than party bags full of the usual trinkets, we’d have a lucky dip with more substantial prizes for each child, Disney of course, which seemed to be a hit!

However, bouncy castle, costumes, food and drink aside, surely the big thing with any birthday party, is what appears when you all sing. Although I haven’t yet had to feel that pressure that some mums talk about, about how you feel in competition with other mums or looked down upon if you buy a birthday cake in the supermarket, I’ve always felt a bit of a personal challenge, and wanted to make my children’s birthday cakes. My mum always made mine, and I remember feeling excited when I saw each and every one. They weren’t particularly posh or artistic, but they were my birthday cakes and nobody else was ever going to have one the same.

I’m not particularly creative either, so it’s probably no great loss to childrenkind that none of them will ever have to receive a birthday cake quite like the ones I make, but I was still determined! I have to say that due to the fact this was a joint party, and I was therefore going to need 2 birthday cakes, I was quite relieved when my daughter spied a Hello Kitty cake in Sainsbury’s and decided that was the cake she needed for her party, but then things changed after she saw Tangled at the cinema, she decided Disney was an essential theme so she could dress up as Rapunzel, before turning to me and saying ‘And I’d like a cake that looks just like me in my Rapunzel dress please Mummy!’

Who am I to argue?! My son, who dressed up as Woody, had a birthday cake with a Cars logo on the top, which I could just about manage, so I set to work on the Rapunzel cake…

I have to confess that even though this isn’t a particularly complex cake to make if you bake lots, for me it was a challenge, and there are definite up close flaws, but thanks to some expert cyber guidance from the lovely @Shhh_Pregnant who runs Gourmet Kitchenware I managed to produce something which my daughter gleamed at because it look vaguely like her alter ego Rapunzel!

I also made some Disney themed cupcakes for the party bags, just in case my artisic efforts weren’t fit for human consumption, though I have chomped on a *few* slices since the party and I’m still here!

I just hope to goodness that she doesn’t ask for a castle for Rapunzel to live in next year!

Peppa Pig World: It’s a Hoot Hoot!

When I was a child, the holy grail of local days out was a trip to Paulton’s Park, which as the TV adverts so catchily sang, is “just off exit 2 on the M27, it’s a hoot hoot at Paulton’s Park!” Fast forward *ahem* a few years, and although there are still some fun rides, it’s no longer really a day out, more a morning or an afternoon. That is, until last Saturday, when Peppa Pig World opened.

My children (and their parents!) are huge Peppa Pig fans and we’d eagerly anticipated the opening, having seen the signs and adverts appearing for pretty much a whole year before, and more recently, some of the lovelies that I follow on Twitter had managed to get visits before the official opening, so reading their reviews filled us with yet more excitement, and I have to say their tips also came in very useful on the day too. We had high hopes!

My son turned 2 on Tuesday, so we thought this was a perfect opportunity for that special family day out. We woke up and the sun was shining, and given the fact that this was only the fourth day that this part of the park had been open, we prepared ourselves for a very crowded day with long queues, and made sure we had bought our tickets by 9:30 to get in line ready for the gates to open at 10am. We had 2 very excited children to keep entertained whilst also trying to have a conversation with ‘Nanny’ who’d called from St. Ives to wish the little man a happy birthday, unable to grasp the concept that we’d managed to leave the house by 9am!

However, as soon as the big gates opened, and the wait was over, this day out turned into one of my favourite days ever, since becoming a parent. It rivalled the unexpected snow day back in November which you can read about here!

We were there as the park opened, and what strikes you straight away is the absolute vibrance of it. Obviously it’s brand new, but everything is bright, and smells clean and new. Being there early meant we managed to get on about 3 rides with virtually no queueing which was a fab start. We began at Daddy Pig’s cars. Everything is really well though out there, with little touches like the fact that the cars all have 2 steering wheels in the front, therefore preventing squabbling siblings (or friends!) over ‘who gets to drive’ each time.

We got snapped by the speed camera, though we did forget to go to Pedro Pony’s ride photos and check out what we looked like because we were so mesmerised by Peppa’s brightly coloured Balloon Ride in the centre of the park, so we headed there next! The queues built up quite quickly here as there’s restrictions on how many can go in each ‘balloon’ so it was good to get that one done early, before the queues really built up.

After 2 rides, we explored the park a bit, seeing the ducks and the Camper Van, then visited Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Cafe for some hot drinks. Although it was a lovely, sunny day, it was very windy, I was wearing cropped jeans and hubby had forgotten his jumper, so this was very welcome! We warmed up while the children had a fun play in George’s Spaceship Playzone, which is a fantastic soft play centre, up there with the best I’ve been to!

Refreshed, we headed over to Madame Gazelle’s School House, before catching a ride on Grandpa Pig’s Little Train and then his Boat Trip. I’d been warned through some of the reviews I’d read that the food was quite expensive, so we’d taken a picnic, and if you go out of Peppa Pig world, there’s loads of grass and picnic benches, so that was easy. There’s even a little outdoor theatre providing entertainment for the children as you eat!

After lunch, we decided to explore the rest of Paulton’s Park, as your entry fee isn’t just for Peppa World. My daughter who will be four next month, wanted to try out some of the roller coasters, so she had a go on the Flying Frog ride with Daddy, while I tried to get the birthday boy to have a sleep (like that was ever going to happen)! She absolutely loved it, which we were quite relieved about given that we’re off to Disneyland Paris next month.

After a few more non Peppa rides, like the tea cups and the train, we headed back to Peppa Pig World, and joined a rather long queue for Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter ride. We were probably queuing for this ride for half an hour as it’s a wheel, so you can only get one group of people off at each time. It felt like a lot longer with 2 children under 4, one of which needed a wee ‘more badly than ever before’ as soon as we were stuck in!

After an ice cream from Miss Rabbit’s Ice Cream Parlour, my daughter went with Daddy to ride on George’s Dinosaur Adventure, the only one Birthday Boy was too small for, so we went back to the Spaceship Playzone for a bit.

By this point, even though we hadn’t been on the Windy Castle Ride, or soaked ourselves in the muddy puddles, it was getting quite late, so we decided to call it a day, making a last stop at Peppa Pig’s Toy Shop, for the obligatory souvenirs, in the form of a cuddly Suzy for our 3 year old, and a noisy Peppa book for Birthday Boy.

As our 3 year old must measure about 99.5cms, ‘just’ fitting under the barrier, our day cost us £42. Given that this works out as £10.50 per person for the 4 of us, I thought that was pretty reasonable for a full day out. You can save money by getting your tickets online, but it was a good job we didn’t or we would’ve bought a ticket we hadn’t actually needed, thinking we would have needed one for our 3 year old. I’m not really sure why children under 1 metre go free, as the majority of the rides say you have to be 900mm to ride them, so our 3 year old didn’t miss out on going on anything that she wanted to go on. Neither did our (now) 2 year old son, come to that!

The children didn’t leave wanting more, they’d done as much as their energy levels could let them do, but it’s such a good day out, it’ll be lovely to be able to go back and see their excited faces as we go on the things we didn’t get a chance to go on this time, like Windy Castle, and of course, jumping up and down in Muddy Puddles! Our faces will be excited too if we can go back again before our 3 year old grows that extra 0.5cm! A fab day out, if you get the chance to go, you really should. Happy Birthday Harry!

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