Friday, 5 September 2014

More Jelly & Bean books

N is an avid little reader as you may recall (see this post).  She seems to have an almost photographic memory for words (that or she has an understanding that is amazing me!) and as you may recall, absolutely adores Jelly & Bean books. In fact, without doubt, they are the favourites of both of my youngest two.

Today some more Jelly & Bean books arrived on our doormat.

N has exhausted her current supply and knows all the words in each one so I've ordered some harder ones for her.

As you can see, she sat down and got stuck straight in, reading me this book immediately and only struggling with a couple of words that (a) she couldn't sound out and (b) hadn't seen before.  I'm going to need another order before long it seems :)

The books we have already are:

A Series 1 - 10
A Series Extra Books 11 - 16
AD Digraphs Series 17 - 24
B Series 1 - 10
B Series Extra Books 11 -16

I'm just hoping her nursery do as they promised this year and start reading with her as she is progressing so fast at this and I want to encourage her whilst her enthusiasm lasts!

P.S. I've just ordered the first set of Follifoot Farm ones for her as well so I'll keep you all posted.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Free School Dinners

My girls went back to school yesterday and are now entitled to free school meals (well one is, the other is at nursey).  There is only one problem with this.  My 5 year old absolutely hates school dinners.  I have tried to persuade her that almost all of her friends will be having it but no, she's not swayed at all by this fact.  Packed lunches it is for her then.

I do feel sorry for her heading in to school in the morning with her bookbag, packed lunch box and bottle of water (along with the bottle of drink she has at lunchtime in her lunch box and a flask as she enjoys a hot lunch).  I'm tempted to buy her an Alpaca that she can take down the road with her to carry all the stuff!  It wasn't so bad when she was in Reception and could go straight into class and drop all the heavy stuff off but now in Year 1, she has to walk around the playground until the bell goes. I may end up taking her to school later so she has less time to trundle around, weighed down with stuff.  First day back was even worse as she had an entire PE kit to lug around too!

Littlest one has school dinners as her school do not allow packed lunches. This is fine for her as even though she's only 3, they do a cafeteria style lunch session so they have plenty of choice from the daily meal/vegetarian option or the usual salads, jacket potatoes will all sorts of fillings and pasta (of course).

It's a far cry from my school dinners. I was home to lunch girl as we did back then - can you imagine that?!  However, for 2 weeks I decided to try school lunches. Suffice to say I left school every day starving. I remember the smell of the dinner hall that used to almost turn my stomach as I entered and the absolutely disgusting food they served - cheese and bacon swirls stick in my head (and throat) as I'm writing this.  Fortunately things have come a long way since then.

Do your little ones have school meals or are they packed lunch kiddies?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Two Wheels Now

On Saturday, after a friends birthday party, S decided she no longer wanted her stabilisers on her bike. I have no idea why this suddenly occurred to her (no, it wasn't a cycling party) but can only assume it was due to yesterday when we went out with friends and one of her stabilisers bent quite a bit.  Whatever the reason,we removed them and then proceeded to try and help her with how to cycle without them.  You will notice I used the word try.

Nothing we said to her she listened to. We could not hold her seat and help her balance. We could not advise her to put the pedal up and push off. Nope. Nothing.  She was going to do this herself and that was that.  And do you know what?  About an hour of wobbling around trying to put her other foot on the pedal before the bike tipped over and she did it. Yes!  She cycled for 4 revolutions of the pedals.  I was jumping up and down with pride.

Yesterday, she wanted to ride around again.  First we went to the outlaws house (with bikes) and she cycled around their garden. Well, more a straight line with hubby pushing her off as granddad really does need to mow his lawn *grin* No matter, she did it - showing off to us all.

When we got home, she wanted to carry on riding. We took her to a nice pathway near where we live and off she went. She starts herself off, pedals backward a bit to get her leverage and she's away.  No help from us at all.

Today, we had promised she could go riding again so we took her over to Brooklands which has a fabulous place to ride around and the two girls went around the track and big, flat area for an hour - in the rain! No, not even rain was going to stop her.

N is a little speed demon on her bike so they had great fun whizzing around together.  I'm so proud of my little girl and her determination to do it all by herself. For such a shy, quiet person, she has some wicked determination.  Her friends are now all trying it too!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Sorgenfresser Time

No, I'm not talking gibberish.  These are the girls new toys.  Saggo is on the left and Biff on the right (that's the toys names, not what my girls are called).

Sorgenfresser - or Worry Eaters - I am sure will be the new Christmas craze.  These gorgeous characters are from Gerd Hahn's TV series in Germany.  The cute little monsters have zips for mouths so children can write down or draw their worry on a piece of paper, pop it in, zip it up and their own sorgenfresser will eat it for them and take it away.  How cool is that?!

I was keen to give this a go as S (on the right) is quite an anxious little soul and does worry about all sorts - from what's for dinner to what she'll do when she leaves school (and she's only 5)! Anything that may help her is worth a go as sometimes - mostly at bedtimes - it can be very frustrating trying to calm her down when she gets all wound up about what I consider to be something 'silly' but clearly it's not to her.

There are lots of different types of Worry Eaters and sizes range from a bit bigger than the girls are holding here to keyring ones (yes, I've ordered one of those for me even though I'm not worried about anything - well, not much anyway).


N, on the left (top picture, not the one above clearly) doesn't need a Worry Eater but hey, you can't give to one without the other now can you.  I'm sure I'll find her one stuffed with money, sweets and glitter by morning!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

It's good to talk Reg

 Yesterday us girls headed up to see our friend in Cambridge.  Having had a good old natter when we arrived, we decided to head out to the Pig and Abbot for a lovely spot of lunch again.

The landlady here is just wonderful and with the waitress found a table that us two adults and four children to fit around.  The price of her kids meals is amazing for what they get so I would highly recommend them if you are in the area.

The girls played their own version of Jenga and snap before the food arrived.  Once the main was eaten, they had their ice cream (fortunately L and I didn't have to fight over dessert this time) and then for being so well behaved, they chose a sweet each from the landlady's tin :)

Having enjoyed a hearty lunch, we definitely needed to walk it off a bit.  A spot of geocaching seemed the ideal solution :)

Last time we were here we had tried (for about 20 minutes) to find It's Good to Talk - Abington Piggotts but without any success. Today we were going to give it another go.  Yes, you guessed it, we must have been in and out of that phone box for about 15 minutes or more.  At one point we were almost all in there looking.  I wonder what the locals thought of us?  The girls were then all walking around and around the phone box singing "we're going to find it".  Subtle huh?  Anyway, having looked high and low, we decided to try some more unusual angles.  Bingo!  There it was.  I pointed it out to L and she was amazed too.  Little did we realise what the cache container was.  I won't spoil it for you but give it a go if you're passing.  Hooray, a find for today.

We then headed off to Litlington and parked up to do the Litlington Loop - in reverse order.  Our first find was #6.  There were definitely too many stingers here for me and my lot in sandals so we sent in a very sensible L in her trainers and long trousers to make the find.

22 Ashwell Street was next and this proved an ideal find for our littlest cacher who is just 3 1/2.  She was delighted with her find (yes we check it's all 'safe' beforehand for her to do) and it was logged against her own account.  One happy little girl.

#5 was next and I was sure I had spotted it immediately.  I ventured over and no, these were not fakes. Oops!  The other girls had actually spotted the cache so a quick find but how funny to have more than one thing that it could have been at this point.  Signed and away we went.

#4 was quite an easy spot but we disagreed with the hint.  It certainly wasn't one of those. Perhaps the hint needed updating?

#3 saw us searching when some people with dogs walked past us. They looked a bit puzzled before mouthing 'afternoon'.  For once an ivy covered tree didn't phase us and I spotted something so picked up S to make the find herself (all the girls had to find one you see). She was delighted and had it logged against her account too.  It's the little things that make them happy :)

#2 saw L nip into the shrubbery whilst I walked past to see if there was a closer entrance.  While I was looking, she made the find.  The log was getting a bit full up but she signed for us.

Litlington Clunch Pit was next and I picked up a bit of the stone to do the test on later. I hope I have the answers right as I am both useless at chemistry and geology!  Nice to get an Earthcache too though on the loop.

#1 was last of the day.  A quick find again and we pulled the log out to see that other cachers were clearly around as it had been signed by two today.  All done it was back to the cars and away home for us all.  Another lovely day with friends and some nice caching around fields.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Camping or Glamping? I'm doing nothing without electricity!

We have a tent! I know, it's crazy right as I really don't do 'roughing it'.  We happened to buy it when hubby was off for his eye test.  Yes, before you ask, he had the eye test before we bought it ;-)  We were passing Millets and they had a sale. Well, really, even I can't resist the bargain of a tent reduced from £300 to £140 (and it's not even shoes I got excited about see).

Said tent arrived and we put it up in the garden.  Of course, the girls wanted to sleep in it. I was less keen.  The following day teen and her bestie were here so we decided to have a girls garden sleepover (hubby was working until the wee hours) so we put the littlest ones to bed first and at 10.30pm when we'd finished watching a DVD of The Walking Dead, we woke them up and headed for the garden.

Much giggling ensued and we found out, having settled everyone down, that the girls double airbed I had bought from Argos was going down. The point of an airbed is to keep the air in surely?  I asked the teens to swap with the little ones as I knew the little ones would never get to sleep otherwise (I couldn't as I was on a single airbed from Millets, as we the teens).  They kindly did and laid on a wafer of slightly puffy plastic all night - bless them.

We finally got off to sleep around 1am (ish). I woke about 2am when a cat (I'm guessing) made a heck of a noise jumping onto the bins outside the garden gate.  Made me flippin' jump!  I then woke at 4am (I know that was the time as I looked at my phone) as there were some people talking by our fence. At 4am? Sod off home you weirdos!  Anyway, of course then I needed a wee so had to come into the house.  At 5am the youngest girls started to giggle and chat and that was the end of sleep.  I felt jet-lagged the whole next day.

Before you ask - yes the teens slept through almost all of it and didn't emerge until around 10am when they wanted breakfast ;-)

So, I have now purchased a 'luggable loo' so no more trips out of the tent (although admittedly we're unlikely to need it if we camp in the garden again but that's not likely) and a power switch. Yes, you heard me. Power. For a tent.  Sorted!  Camping - no.  A bit of glamping - yes.  It's a cool switch that plugs into a caravan socket at the camp site and then has 20m of specially insulated lead that goes to a 3 gang socket with surge protectors, trip and amp reading thingy.  Hubby knows.  You'll have to ask him. It cost a lot and weighs almost as much as the tent but hey, safety first!

So, we're ready for camping now.  Shame we weren't when the weather was good and hubby was off work for a bit of holiday but it will all keep until the next half term so I'm hoping, as you can imagine, for a very mild October! Watch this space...

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

I'm the captain!
Wow, hasn't it been a blog-tastic week! Yesterday we travelled down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a day out.  I had obtained a half-price family annual pass through the great deals that Eagle Radio offer for the summer holidays.  What's even better about this ticket, is it allows 2 adults and 3 children to visit - perfect for our family.

We got the train down as Southwest Trains were also offering some fab deals and the youngest two love going on the train. What could be bettter?  A nice hour's journey down and we arrived.

We queued up to change our voucher into a ticket and away we went. HMS Victory being our first stop.  The girls were very excited to see this ship although they did, at first, think it would take them out to sea so wondered why it was held up 'with wood'.  I haven't been on this ship since I was a child and now it seemed even more cramped and the steps even steeper. Can you imagine having to run up and down them and around the ship when it was out to sea...out to sea in rough seas....out to sea in rough seas in get my drift.  I feel seasick just thinking about it ;-)

Who stole the top of the mast?

Having had a good explore of Victory, we decided to get a bit of lunch as we'd arrived around 11.30am here and tummies were rumbling.  We went out of the dockyard to a fish and chip shop and sat at the seafront (well, boat yard where someone started a diesel generator up - ummm..goes well with lunch) and ate our food.  The girls were having fun waving their arms around saying the seagulls were going to eat their fish.  They were wrong - it was daddy who got in their first!

HMS Warrior
Back into the Dockyard we went and on to HMS Warrior.  This trip lasted about 5 minutes before the shout for toilets went up.  Away we went.  Having sorted everyone out, we decided to go into the Museum of the Royal Navy before heading back to Warrior.  We opted for the Naval History side rather than the Nelson side as I have been shown around here before and remembered about the interactive areas and the dressing up part.

Teenagers will sleep anywhere!
J found the interactive screens first. A few didn't seem to work (mainly ones with the big, push buttons) but the tablet sized ones were great. She was choosing a crew and supplies for a trip. She had fun picking alcohol only to take and seeing her crew were all drunk so didn't go into battle, or water and juices only finding they mutinied.  I had a go too - naturally I won the battle. The two youngest then had a go as well and enjoyed pressing the buttons.

The youngest two were fascinated with the swords, lances and canons.  They spent the rest of the time there trying to kill each other and everyone else that came along saying "BOOM!  Canonball. You're dead" or "Argh...I've spiked you. You have a to die now" pretending they had a lance or sword...*cough* oops.

The fancy dress part came next and they were straight in.  A lovely lady from the museum came up to tell us more about each piece they were putting on and helping them get dressed (I'm sure hubby and J were now having a go at pretending to shoot everyone as they were nowhere to be seen).  The girls loved putting the clothes on and when hubby and J arrived a few minutes later, we got a photo of us all. Hubby went for the captain's hat but as I said to him "there's only one captain of this family - and it's me!" ;-)  Great photo the lady took for us.

The girls then spent about another 20 minutes trying on different outfits.  They absolutely loved this area and I think could have stayed all day.

We headed off finally back to HMS Warrior to finish up the tour.

A barrel of monkeys

Amazing to see the pistons going round at the bottom.  So smooth.


As we arrived, we'd seen a wedding party heading off the ship and the staff were now preparing it for the reception.  What a lovely idea.

Having had a good look around, we headed back to the station and hopped on a train back home.

The girls have had a super day out and so have we. If you can get to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, I recommend you do. It's worth it.

Next time we'll be off to Explosion and the Submarine museum but the queue and timings for the boat weren't quite right for us today.