Sunday, 9 July 2017

An enchanting Flower Fairy Party

The past few months have passed in a bit of a whirl wind. 

We're gearing up to move house, and as the paperwork started filtering in, I realised that Chick 6's birthday was going to fall smack bang in the middle of the move. The kids are aware of what is going on and we discussed the fact that we would be at the new house on their actual birthday. 

In order to try and make the transition a bit easier, we decided to organise more play dates and an early party so that they could have some fun with their friends before the move. 

This year, Chick 6 decided she'd like to go for a flower fairy theme. She's adored fairies since she was a toddler, and so it seemed like a fitting idea to have a garden party when we have a serious lack of toys and furniture in the actual house (it's all in storage!)

In order to 'fill the empty space' a little in the living room, we put a load of helium balloons and had a slide show of chick 6's photo's from the last 5 years playing on the telly.

I've got to say, I had a really fun time thinking of activities for this party. As a fairy enthusiast myself, I put together a few ideas that meant the children had some keep sakes they could take home with them at the end of the day. 

We had empty fairy dust jars, which the girls filled with different colour glitter. The Works do some fantastic offers for these, I bought 2 packs of 6 for £4 each. 

After they'd chosen their colours, they shook them up and made a wish. I told them if they put a sprinkle of it on their pillows each night, it would help them to have great dreams (a little magic trick I've been doing with our children for a while now).

Outside there was a little exploratory fairy garden, with fairy houses, fairies, mini animals and objects which they could set up and play with. 

Amazon do some great offers on fairy garden packs (see the links at the end of this post for links).

One of the things I saved out of the dressing up box before it all got packed up and put into storage was the fairy costumes. 

For some reason we have about 6 outfits!! Who knew? Anyway, these got put out so that any kiddies that didn't have a costume on could get dressed up as well :) 

Chick 6 loves to colour and draw, so I put some blank fairy cut out shapes on a table with some crafty supplies. They really enjoyed this activity and were able to add this little craft to their fairy party bags too.

 During the afternoon, they were each able to come and paint and decorate their own fairy house (mini bird house). I also got these from The Works. These ones are the smallest ones they did, but were only a £1 each!! Bargain!.

Once they'd finished decorating them, they hung them back on the tree to dry and were able to take the home at the end of the party. 

I ususally make the kids a cake on their birthday, and this year I very nearly caved and bought a shop created one because I've been up to my eye balls in packing the house. In the end I saw this really simple idea on Pinterest, and figured that would do the job nicely!! The flower fairy cake toppers were from amazon again (see links at bottom).

At the end of the party, the girls all put their crafty creations into one of these very sweet party bags (amazon again - love that site!!).

It was a really magical afternoon, and it was lovely seeing Chic 6 enjoy some quality time with her little friends before we head off to the new house. 

Here are a few links for some of the bits we had at the party :) 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What to take on a bug hunt adventure

Getting out on a bug hunt adventure can be one of the most exciting outdoor activities to do with children. 

Bug hunts not only help children appreciate and learn about the environment, minibeasts and plants, but also gives them opportunities to develop valuable planning and enquiry skills.

Bug hunts can be as simple or as adventurous as you want to make them. Ranging from exploring your back garden to venturing into a new and unexplored part of your local area. 

While children can often be happy exploring using purely their eyes and hands. There are a few resources and products I would highly recommend gathering together to make the experience as fun and educational as possible (Links to recommended products will be shown at the bottom of this post)

One sunny, bright afternoon the children and I set about planning and preparing for our very own bug hunt adventure.

Planning the exploration
Giving the children a chance to take part in the planning process for an experience like this is a valuable opportunity for nurturing their enquiry and critical thinking skills. Through giving them a series of open ended questions, such as - What if it's muddy... how will we protect out feet and clothes? How will we carry our equipment? If we come to a river, what could we use to catch bugs living in the water? What if they are too small to see, how could we make them look bigger? etc

Here is the plan we drew up before gathering what we needed. The children helped to find the bits and pieces we needed and we checked them off the plan once we had found them.

As you can see, we went well equiped! 

Our kit list was as follows:

Scavengar hunt checklist
Magnifying glass
Small empty boxes
cup catcher scissors
butterfly nets
magnifying pots
snacks and water

(links to recommended items at the bottom of the post)

Giving children pitcures of insects/plants and items to spot while they are out is a great way to keep them focused. These sheets I found from the following website:

However, if you google nature scavenger hunt there are loads and loads of ideas out there!

We were all set! We didn't actually know where we would go for our bug hunt, so I drove to a local nature reserve and they pointed to where they thought would be a good place to start.

We walked and explored the forest, stopping to look closely at fallen objects or leaves and comparing them with our lists.

We found a beautiful brook where they fished for tadpoles and other water creatures. Sadly no luck!

Chick 2 mostly just watched the older two with fascination and made a few attempts at fishing a few rocks.

The bug hunt was very much led by the children. They decided which direction we should choose to go in each time there was a fork in the path.

After a few hours of exploring we stopped for a bite to eat and some refreshing drinks. 

Finally after lots more searching we came accross a baby frog in one of the marshier areas of the forest. The children were absolutely fascinated (chick 2 was disgusted).

We talked about the life cycle of a frog. The children asked if we could take it home, at which point we had a discussion about looking after wildlife and how creatures can be looked at and observed but then we need to put them back where we found them.


The creatures we managed to find included spiders, woodlouse and beetles.

We also kept our eyes peeled for animal tracks and signs of nesting or rabbit holes.

After a day of exploring and adventuring, the heavens opened and it was time to head back for the car!

Bug hunts can be a truly wonderful adventure for both children and adults. There are so many wonderful learning opportunities to be gained from it.

Here are the products I'd highly recommend purchasing. Even if it were just one or two items, they can really help enhance the whole experience.

Happy hunting!!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

and you are good enough

Nine months getting fatter 
and fatter. 
so fat, no covcievable position 
will allow you to sleep comfortably

Sickness, aches, discomfort
feeling so utterly terrified
not knowing what the future holds
and yet
total adoration for a tiny person 
you've never met.

Wondering how your body
the one that you've looked at
a thousand times before
and seen with all it's flaws
is now creating something
so miraculous
so spectacularly amazing
it's hard to comprehend it.

like going into battle,
but with no preparation
no idea when the end will come, 
moments of calm and clarity
but mostly moments of pure agony and fear 
then you dig in deep to be braver
stronger than you thought you could ever be

just when you think you can't do it anymore
it's over
but really
it's only just beginning. 

In the dead of the night
I am there, pacing up and down
singing softly
sometimes crying along with my babe.

"I can't do this!"
"I don't know what to do!"

Hopelessness grips 
but nobody sees it. 

Nobody will know because 
to everyone else 
we look like a mum in control
a mother who knows.

Then daylight comes,
bringing sunlight into the dark 
I see their tiny hands, feet and nose
I marvel at the slightest movement in their face
I press their velvet skin against my cheek 
and all is right again.

A series of moments flash by
unseen events in time, 
ones with no tiara or reward badge attached.

Wiping bottoms, a thousand times a day
quietly throwing out the 10th babygrow 
and wishing you'd bought everything 
in the colour yellow

picking up cereal
or scraping it off the floor because it's been cemented there 
from 3 days ago.

reaching out with cupped hands to catch the sick
before it reaches the floor

being cross
even though you promised yourself 
you'd be more patient today
saying you are sorry
and promising yourself again 
and again to be better tomorrow.

Falling asleep in a tiny bed 
then trying to untangle your body
from the child that's woken
at 11pm
then wondering if there is any point
getting ready for bed.

kissing scraped knees
owie fingers
and bumped heads
racing to the hospital
dreading the questioning suspicious look
as you tell the doctor why your child is in A&E

"up please"
"down please"
"no no no"
"more please"
"I don't want it!"
"I want it"

forcing the child into a chair 
that is more rigid
than a plank of wood

playing the music so loud
you nearly can't hear them cry 
all the way home

Washing clothes
drying clothes
folding clothes
not ironing them
watching it pile high for a week
and wondering why it never gets any smaller.

Throwing an odd sock away
only to find it's pair a week later.

Feeling guilt 
for not going 'back to work'

and feeling it again when you do.

Promising not to cry the day 
you leave your baby for the first time
but weeping the whole way to work.

Thinking about them the whole day
and wishing for the moment you can pick them up again.

Feeling both guilt and freedom
when you feel a piece of you
is back again. 
when it's just you they see
not 'that kids mum'

Getting to the end of a day at work
looking in the mirror 
and realising
there is dry snot all over your shoulder.

Feeling broken and proud
as you watch them cross the threshold 
of a school classroom
a new chapter in their life
your life
where they need you less
but you feel like you need them more.

Racing to school 
realising as you reach the door
a minute to spare 
they are wearing a pair of trousers
meant for their 2 year old brother. 

Feelings of guilt
that their 'World book day' costume 
is shop bought and not home made.

Feelings of pride
after seeing them wearing the costume
you spent all night making
but seceretly promising 
to just buy it again next year.

Doing your best
but not always feeling like you measure up

Then they cry in the night
and in the day
and you wish someone else could give them
the cuddle that will get them back to sleep
but then you realise

all they want is you.

No one else can give them what they need

because you are theirs 

and they are yours

and you are good enough.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

World Book Day 2017 - Narnia Theme

After last years very quick and easy fancy dress attempt for World Book Day, I decided that 2017's costumes required a little more thought and preparation.

This year I actually had a chat with the kids about what they thought they'd like to dress up as. They are very into Harry Potter and Narnia at the moment so there were a few comments about witches and kings. Then Chick 6 chimed in with "I think I could be a lion - I want to be Aslan".

Out of which was born our 2017 costumes...

Aslan the Lion -

Headpiece made from cardboard, painted and decorated with fur.
T-shirt - Primark (£3)
Leggings - Primark, pre-owned
Handmade wrist and ankle cuffs(thanks Mamgu for your help!)  - 1/4m Material from Hobbycraft (£2.50)
Tail - Wool from Hobbycraft (£4)

Mr Bever

Gruffalo onsie - M&S

Peter the Magnificent

Sword and shield - Old toys covered in tin foil
Knight Costume -  Amazon (it was on sale when we bought it for his birthday last year)

Joggers - Pre-owned
Crown - Cardboard covered with foil
Belt - Primark (£1.50)

White Witch

White dress - Old hand made (thanks again Mamgu)
Gloves - Claires Accessories (£3.50)
Pearls - Tesco, Pre-owned
White Dolly Shoes - Primark, Pre-owned
Crown, wand - Pre-owned (thanks chick 6!)
Sparkle Hair spray - Claires Accessories (£4)
Fur Jacket - Charity shop (£3.50)

So there you have it!!

Chick 6 was thrilled to win best costume out of her year group and got a £5 book token for WH Smiths!

The children in my own reception class were very curious about my costume (most of them didn't have a clue who i was "A white princess??!"
I ended up going on a risk assessment trip with my collegue in a forest that afternoon. We got some highly amusing odd looks from several dog walkers. We even bumped into the Gruffalo!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentines Chocolate Playdough Recipe

It's been ages since I made a fresh batch of playdough. Today, I figured it'd be good to make something with a Valentines theme. What could be any better than chocolate?!

The following recipe was really easy and ready to play with in about 15 minutes.

2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
Stir up all the ingredients in a saucepan, over a low heat, until the dough forms. Allow the playdough to cool and then you’re ready to play.
This makes  a dark chocolate coloured playdough with a great smell. If you’d like to make it milder just use more flour and less cocoa, making sure you use 2 cups of the flour/cocoa combination in total. The playdough looks and smells good enough to eat, but of course it isn’t, Chick 2 learnt this the hard way before I'd had a chance to explain it wasn't to eat!!
I had a few empty chocolate boxes left after Christmas. So I showed Chick 2 how to roll the playdough into balls and he spent the morning coming up with games around making chocolates and biscuits for friends and family (I wont go into the bit where he started saying it was 'poo!')