28/50 Things – Climb A Huge Hill

Not ones to do things by halves, we started off our 50 Things challenge with something big.

Really big.

Huge, in fact.

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We had a whole day with nothing planned and son was keen to tick the first thing off his 50 Things list, so we packed a picnic and headed for the hills. Well, one hill in particular; Roseberry Topping. Situated on the northern edge of the North York Moors National Park, its distinctive peak is visible from miles around and is instantly recognisable. Standing at 320m high, it is not the biggest hill in the area, but it is quite a steep and challenging climb, especially for a four year old.

Although it doesn’t look it, it was a really warm day and son fell asleep in the car on the drive over. I hoped this would give him a little energy boost to tackle the climb as he is usually quite quick to complain he is tired when out walking. We arrived around lunchtime and, after a quick snack, set off along the track leading to the hill.

Through the gate at the end of the track, there are several different paths you can take. As son was leader of the expedition, he chose the wooden steps and led the way.

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The steps became quite steep in places and son needed a little help to get up some of the higher ones, but he was happy to keep climbing. After the wooden steps, we followed a stone path. This was much easier on the thighs! About half an hour after starting the walk, we found a bench and sat down for a drink. Son was surprised at how high we were as we had been too busy watching where to put our feet to take in the view.

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This is where the climb started to get a bit more difficult. The path became steeper and more uneven with larger stones and we were, at times, scrambling on all fours. After another twenty minutes or so, we came to a small, flat area of grass to sit and rest. Son said his legs were ‘a bit achy but they’ll be ok in five minutes’, I believed him of course and did not start making a plan of how to get him back down if he got too tired. *cough*

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From here, the end was in sight and it wasn’t long before we reached the summit. The look on son’s face was absolutely priceless. He was so proud of himself, he told all of the other people at the top that he was a real mountaineer now.

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So that’s the first of our 50 things completed. We can’t wait to get on with the other 49!

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Summer Plans

Apologies, everyone, for the bad weather. At the first hint of summer, I bought myself a sun hat and now look what’s happened. Inevitable really. It could have been worse though, I could have bought a barbecue. We were really lucky that son’s birthday party fell on one of the few sunny days of the year so far (that was pre-hat time) as most of it was spent outside, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

With just a few weeks of nursery left, I thought I’d better start making some plans for the summer. I’m going to need a lot of ideas to fill all the lovely summer days that I am sure are just around the corner. I intend to make this an outdoors summer for my son. Once he starts school in September and the weather turns as we approach winter (turns into what? Is it not bad enough already?), he will be spending more and more time indoors so best we make the most of it while we can.

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I thought that a good place to start looking for ideas would be the National Trust’s brilliant campaign to get kids away from the tv and out exploring nature; 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4. After having a good look around their website, I signed son up to help keep track of the activities we complete. We have already done quite a few on the list, but we’re going to start over and see how many we can get through before the end of the summer holidays.

We are also going to be taking inspiration from TheBoyAndMe’s fabulous posts on a Natural Childhood and Country Kids from Coombe Mill. There are so many amazing ideas that are being linked up each week and there’s nothing better than seeing kids outdoors enjoying themselves. I definitely need to make more time for outdoor play and exploring the countryside, whatever the weather.

Oh, and if the weather doesn’t improve soon? I’ll burn my hat.

 

Happy New New Year

Happy New… err… *cough* It’s been ages since I’ve been able to post anything, our house has been full of germs since well before christmas and I didn’t want to pass any of them on to you. Yes, I think we really were that infectious. Just as one of us started to get better, someone else would take ill. Now, I don’t want to jinx it by saying so, but I think we’re all ok at the moment.

So, as of now, I’m restarting the new year and I have plans. Lots of plans. It’s the start of the Chinese New Year and this is the year of the Snake. As I am a Snake, I hope it means this will be a good year for me. I’m feeling really positive so far, well, my new new year is only a matter of hours old so there hasn’t been much time for things to go wrong yet.

For about the last four years, my life has been centred around my son. It has left little time for me to do anything for myself and I guess I haven’t even really thought much about myself in that time either. I think it’s about time I gave myself a swift kick up the backside and remember that I need to look after myself too. Son will (hopefully) be starting nursery for a few afternoons a week, so that should give me a bit of time to work on my goals. I already have my Day Zero list which has specific things to complete before the end of September (eek!), but there are a few more general things I would like to get started on.

1. Get fit. Well, fitter than I am now, anyway. I started swimming once a week but that has turned into an excuse to chat to adults with no children around. There is much more talking and much less swimming, possibly because it is my only child-free time out of the house. I aim to count my lengths, then do two extra each week until I am swimming all lesson. Then I will work on swimming faster. I should probably add something else in here like walking to nursery instead of taking the car. Exercise does not come naturally to me though, I think I might need some help here.

2. Lose the baby-belly. I have put on nearly two stone and gone up two to three dress sizes since having my son. While I am pleased that I can now fit into adult clothes and no longer have to shop in the kids department, I could really do with toning up a bit. No idea where to start with this one as I’ve never really done any specific workouts or diets before.

3. Have fun. I would love to have a regular night out. Once a month would be great, nothing fancy, just to catch up and have a laugh without having to worry about what mischief the kids are getting up to. This would also help with the swimming as I wouldn’t have to do all my talking there. *makes a good case for night out with the girls*

4. Plan for work. I know I have just over a year before I have to start work, so now would be a good time to try and figure out what I want to do. I had to go for a ‘work-focused interview’ at the job centre and had a really good chat with the man there – not what I was expecting at all! He made me realise I have many options and gave me lots to think about, but I need to gain more confidence in myself.

So there you have it. Not exactly new years resolutions as I don’t do those very well. More like new new years vague goals for the time being.

Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

 

I am entering this post into the MoneySupermarket.com Get Fit Feel Epic competition hosted by Yummy Mummy In Training

First Winter Snow

One good thing about not being able to get to sleep, is that you see things you would otherwise miss. Like the first winter snow falling silently from an orange sky.

Son had heard on the weather forecast that there was snow coming and had been checking the window all day, but when he went to bed there was still no sign of it. Shortly after 2am, he woke himself up coughing. Instead of letting him fall back to sleep, I whispered to him that it was snowing and asked if he wanted to see. He sleepily lifted his arms to me so I carried him to the window. Squinting through tired eyes, he nodded and croaked ‘good’ then I tucked him back into bed. He fell asleep with the biggest smile on his face.

By the time he woke again, there was barely a hint of snow and he couldn’t remember me showing him during the night. I hope there will be plenty more to come, he has his heart set on building a huge snowman. A little treat in Elf’s pocket soon cheered him up though; a chocolate, a small bag of sequins and a note asking if he could make some decorations to brighten up Great Gran’s flat.

We were going to make four of these triangles, stick them together into a pyramid then hang it over a bottle. However, son’s attention span was particularly short today and barely covered making this one, so it will probably just be made into a picture. Not to worry, I’m sure Elf will have a few more suggestions for him over the next couple of weeks.

Christmas Hot Chocolate

I’m not a big fan of hot chocolate out of a packet. I haven’t tried it since I was a child because the memory of that chalky feeling in my mouth just puts me off. But the idea of hot chocolate is one that appeals. I love chocolate, I want to love hot chocolate. So I thought I’d better have a go at making my own. I had to anyway, the Elf told me to.

I’ve never made hot chocolate before so, rather than follow a recipe, I thought I’d do the sensible thing and just chuck some chocolate and milk in a pan, heat it up, and see how it goes. Quantities were based on ‘what was left in the bottle’, so about three quarters of a pint of whole milk and half a small tub of single cream. I had two 100g bars of chocolate in the cupboard, one dark and one milk, so I tried 60g dark and 40g milk. I know this because, rather conveniently, each bar of chocolate had ten squares.

It tasted quite nice but I thought it could do with something extra to make it a bit different. I considered a pinch of chilli powder but didn’t have any, curry powder sounded yucky, so I went with the only other thing in the cupboard – mixed spice. I used a measuring spoon (so that I didn’t accidentally tip half a jar in) and added a bit less than a quarter teaspoon, then gave it a good whisk for frothiness.

It made four small cups of some rather good hot chocolate. A small cup was enough as it was really quite rich, but I was pleasantly surprised with how nice it was and the mixed spice made it taste all christmassy. Granny and Grandad both approved but son was not keen. I think if I make it for him I would have to use more milk chocolate and maybe less cream so it’s not as rich.

I’d like to try it again but, as I am generally rubbish at cooking, I’ve no idea how it can be improved. Should I boil the milk or just warm it? Would more spice be too much? If any of you can tweak my recipe a bit to make it even better, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

The Magic Of Christmas

I know I say this every year, but I can’t believe it’s December already! As son has not been having a good time of late, I plan to make this the best, most magical christmas ever, but despite scribbling ideas in a notebook for the last couple of weeks, I am still totally unprepared. Last year, Elf came to visit. Son remembered and asked about him so was pleased to hear that he would be returning this year, but I haven’t told him anything else about my plans.

Last week, we borrowed Polar Express on DVD from a friend. Son had never seen it before and sat captivated all the way through. He even cheered when they made it across the ice! He loved it. Which is why I was sat up until silly o’clock this morning preparing this:

The first gift of christmas, brought by his Elf. Son was over the moon. His face lit up before he even got the box open as he realised what it was, and it was so good to see him so happy and excited. He kept ringing the bell and telling us all that he could hear it because he believed Santa was coming, and checking that I could hear it, and granny could hear it, then had a whole conversation with the Elf about it. It was magic.

I’m sure, as parents, there are many of us who do things like this to make christmas a truly magical time for our little ones. I bet there’s a good chance that while the little ones are busy staring, full of wonder, that a few knowing looks are exchanged between the adults. How many of us secretly wish that it really was magic, that these things just happened and didn’t have to be set up by us? That Santa really had just flown over on his sleigh and dropped an elf off at your house?

What if, when you looked out of the window that morning, there was a huge chunk of ice on the road outside your house? Or is it compacted snow? What if you knew that there had been no snow falling at all, anywhere near where you lived and a quick scout of the area found…nothing? What if that groove in the top of the ice was just wide enough for the runner of a sleigh…

 

I believe.

Do you?

Review – Garden Draughts

I’m loving the fact that my son has reached the age where he’s becoming more interested in board games. He’s doing quite well with ones that involve rolling a dice, moving around the board and then following an instruction on the square you land on. We have a few different ones in this style, and I thought it might be good to try a game that required a completely different way of thinking. So we got some draughts. Not just any old draughts though, thanks to Big Game Hunters we have Garden Draughts!

Although they are designed to be used outdoors, I don’t think we’d get away with playing draughts in the swimming pool that is currently our garden, so we had to give it a try in the house instead. The board is actually a large mat measuring 1.2m x 1.2m and the counters are chunky but light, making them perfect for little hands and impossible to lose down the back of the sofa. I think that when we do get to use it outdoors, the mat will probably need weighting down to keep it flat while playing on it.

With a little help from nephew and granny, we started off with a simplified version of the game; just one row of counters each, so that the boys could learn how to move them. They picked it up in no time at all and so I added another row, just making it a race to get all your counters to the other side. The games went really well until I tried to add jumping and capturing each others counters. Or, as they saw it, stealing. I don’t think they are quite ready for that bit yet!

Considering the size of the game when playing, it all packs away quite neatly back into the box (which is no bigger than some of my handbags!) making it easy to store away or take with you on trips to the park.

It seems the Garden Draughts will be used for much more than just draughts. As they are quite chunky, they roll easily and so the first new game involves rolling the counters and trying to get them to land on a square of the same colour. They have also been wheels on the side of a cardboard box fire engine and runway lights. My son has such an imagination, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Garden Draughts free of charge for this review.

Review – Open And Play: Recorder Pirate Pack

I am a big lover of music, so you may be surprised to hear that I thought it would be a good idea to give a three year old a recorder. A bit ouchy on the ears, yes, but it will get better (I hope). Let me explain. A while ago, my son got a ‘wizzle’ free on the front of a magazine. It’s impossible to play a tune on it, but he has shown a lot of interest in trying and so I thought it would be better to have an instrument that actually works. This pirate themed Open and Play Recorder Pack seemed like a good choice.

The pack contains a blue descant recorder, cleaning rod and carry bag, pirate sticker sheet, fingering chart and a ‘Starting to Play’ tutor book and cd. Son was very excited when he saw the box and couldn’t wait to have a go. He actually left the stickers, which is unheard of, and went straight for the recorder. After a couple of minutes of crazy dancing and trying to deafen me, he handed me the recorder and asked me to play a tune. It’s a long time since I’ve played a recorder, but I gave it a go and it didn’t sound too bad. Son just stared and me and asked, “will you show me how to do that one?”

Using the tutor booklet as a guide, I explained about how to hold the recorder and position your fingers over the holes. The book is easy to follow and starts off with the note B. It starts to introduce basic notation and rhythm by playing the note B to the rhythm of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald. It then tells you how to play the note A and goes through the same tunes using both notes together.

Son is doing really well at learning the first two notes, he seems most impressed about the fact that if you play BABABABA it sounds like a fire engine! He hasn’t tried playing along with the cd yet as he is still mastering the notes, but he tells me that he will try it soon so he can play in a real band.

I think that the Open and Play Recorder Packs are a great way to start a child off playing a musical instrument and at £9.99 they are pretty good value too. The packs are available as either the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack that we have, or a Pink Recorder Princess Pack.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack free of charge for this review.

Halloween – Painting And Pumpkins

Ok, I know Halloween was nearly three weeks ago but that’s how long it’s taken to get this post written. Things have been difficult with my son not being himself and I’ve been too tired to write at night like I usually do. One day, maybe I’ll be able to write about why things are so difficult but, for now, pretending it’s all not happening seems to be working just fine.

I’ve already deleted several draft posts as I thought that they were ‘too late’ to post and now I feel sad, like those times have been lost somehow. Well, not any more. I still want a record of what my son and I have been up to together and if that means writing about things weeks after they happen then so be it.

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I love Halloween. I love dressing up and playing tricks on each other and making spooky food and watching scary movies and carving pumpkins and, oh, you know, everything really. Plans started at the beginning of October and I had some brilliant ideas. As some of the decorations would need time to dry in between different parts, we started making them a week early and my nephew joined in too.

First we made some spiders. These are really easy to make with toddlers as they are just handprints with the palms overlapping. Don’t put paint on the thumb though, or your spiders will have too many legs. When they have dried, add some googly eyes and cut around the edge. We made quite a few of these and son insisted we have a mammy spider too!

Next, we made some spooky tree pictures. I think these would look great stuck onto card as an invitation to a Halloween party. We used some blue paper, cut it to the size we wanted and stuck on a moon cut from white paper. We mixed some black ready-mix paint with about the same amount of water and painted a tree trunk. We put a blob of the watery paint onto the top of the trunk and blew through a straw to spread the paint out for the branches, adding another blob of paint when needed. The boys needed a little help directing the straw, but had fun blowing the paint around. They were to be finished off with sequin bats for an extra spooky touch.

I don’t like to finish decorations completely too long before putting them up. If they have been finished and put away in a box for a week, they seem to lose a bit of their magic. I think it’s much more satisfying to finish it and stick it up straight away, with a definite ‘I made that’. So I left all of the finishing touches for Halloween morning; the googly eyes for the spiders, the bats for the pictures and, of course, the pumpkin carving.

I also made some gingerbread biscuits cut into ghosts and bats, and some fab chocolatey treats with rice krispies. They were a bit of a last minute idea and I had no idea if they would work but I think they turned out brilliantly. I’m so pleased with them that I’m going to make something similar for Christmas but with little trees or snowflakes perhaps.

Unfortunately, that was about it for our Halloween. The weekend before Halloween, son had a rough time; it took him almost a week to get over the worst of it and he’s still not right. It’s a shame because he’d really been looking forward to putting up decorations and getting dressed up, but all he wanted to do was lay on the sofa and watch a bit of tv. As you can see, he didn’t even want to finish off the decorations he’d taken such care making or try on his costume. He did help me choose a picture to carve onto our pumpkin, although it was a day late. He said he wanted ‘pumpkins on a pumpkin’ so this is what we ended up with:

If you’d like to see some more pumpkin creations, have a look at this linky over at The Boy And Me, there are some brilliant pumpkins linked up.

Hope you all had a fabulously spooky Halloween!

Review – CBeebies: The Album

As we now have to do a lot of long car journeys, it’s always good to have something on standby to keep my son entertained. He has his own cd wallet that he keeps in the car so he can choose what to listen to, but it’s been full of the same cd’s for months now and he’s starting to lose interest. Luckily for us, CBeebies have just brought out a brand new album.

CBeebies: The Album is a 2 CD set featuring 50 songs from popular shows on the CBeebies channel. Most of them are instantly recognisable as a theme tune, including some of our favourites – Mike the Knight, Timmy Time, Andy’s Wild Adventures and Tree Fu Tom. Surprisingly though, the biggest squeal of excitement from my son came when the Iconicles theme tune came on!

There are a few songs from within the programmes too, such as Momo’s Song from Show Me Show Me and I’m A Shape from Mister Maker. We’re also really pleased to see the presenter songs on there as we’ve always liked the seasons songs in particular.

The album has proved to be a huge hit with my son; he currently has one disc in the car and the other in the house and tells me he will change them around next year. The only slight problem I have, is that I now have Raa Raa The Noisy Lion stuck in my head and keep catching myself humming it while out shopping.

CBeebies: The Album is a great compilation and I would happily recommend it as a nice little Christmas gift for any CBeebies fan.

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CBeebies: The Album is available to buy now in stores nationwide and through online music retailers.

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent CBeebies: The Album free of charge for this review.

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