Blogtober – Day 31 Reconnecting with Autumn

Blog 33 - Reconnecting with Autumn
Many people have a favourite season.  Mine is definitely winter.  All the things that other people hate are the things I love about it.  I love the dark evenings because people decorate their homes with beautiful lights and streets look so jolly.  I love the chilly weather, being able to wear snuggly jumpers and scarves and the glistening of the frost in the morning.  Not to mention of course Christmas!

Chatting to lots of my friends and many of them feel that Autumn is a much better season.  Previously I have felt fairly non plus about Autumn.  It’s just a quiet time of waiting before we get to the excitement of Christmas.

This year, someone on Instagram (so sorry I can remember who!) shared a check list of things to do during Autumn, from http://www.CraftsonSea.co.uk.  Rory loves a list and was determined to do as many as possible!  Suddenly we found our Autumn has a new sense of purpose and I think we all appreciated it a little more.

We definitely didn’t manage to tick off an activity for every day of October but we had a great time doing the ones we did try and many of them were outdoor activities which was fabulous.

Rory really enjoyed going blackberry picking and making this into a blackberry crumble.  This is something we do most years but this year he was old enough to make the crumble independently, although carefully watched by Grandma!

Other more traditional activities took on a new twist.  Rory collected lots of conkers on an Autumnal walk but rather than string them up and play the usual conker game, I popped them in water with some Autumn leaves and froze them to make an ice excavation game.  Both boys really enjoyed smashing away at the ice to rescue their conkers.

If you’ve been following my other Blogtober posts, you’ll see we have tried a variety of Autumn themed crafts too which have been fantastic for when the weather has been a bit miserable.

All in all, I feel the focus on Autumnal activities has definitely helped me find my love for the season again and to appreciate the beauty of Autumn!

 

Autumn

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Blogtober – Day 30 Autumn Cloud Dough

Blog 32 - Autumn Cloud Dough
I absolutely love a little trawl on Pinterest.  I aspire to do fabulous things with my children.  Some of these are a great success and others are, as the hashtag would say, a Pinterest fail!

One thing I have seen a lot of on Pinterest is cloud dough (or moon dough).  There seems to be a cloud dough for all occasions so I thought I’d give it a go with Rowan to see if it’s all its cracked up to be!

All you need is flour and oil.  Pinterest recommends roughly 4 cups of flour to 1/2 cup of oil.  We found this made it a bit dry so added a little more oil.  I found it best to add it a little at a time until we got the perfect consistency.  If you have a little one that still likes to explore with their mouth, then you can use vegetable oil to make it.  It won’t taste very nice but at least its safe for tummies.  We used baby oil for our batch which made the cloud dough so soft and gorgeous to touch.

We have been experimenting with a variety of Autumn crafts during October and so to add the Autumnal feel I added 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of nutmeg.  It didn’t give an overwhelming smell but just a light aroma.

The first time we played with it, I didn’t supply any toys or tools.  This was because I wanted Rowan to simply explore the cloud dough.  I showed him how to roll it into balls and to  run it through his fingers.  I also gently rubbed it on his feet which he really enjoyed too.  After a little exploring, I added in a plastic cup which we used to build little castles.  This mainly consisted of Rowan adding a little dough then Mummy filling the cup to the top and making the castle and then Rowan flattening it, accompanied by a loud raspberry as he squashed it flat!

The next time we played with it I added some Halloween cookie cutters and playdough tools to the mix.  He had a great time making cloud dough bats and pumpkins.  We didn’t really use the tools as intended but they made great flag poles on top of our castles!

When we finished playing with it, I popped it in an air tight container.  A month later, it’s still going strong.

Because of the texture, I definitely preferred playing with the cloud dough compared to playing with sand.  It kept Rowan entertained for quite a long time for him.  When Rory got in from school and discovered it, he had a fabulous time building things with it too.  All in all it’s a big thumbs up from us for Cloud Dough.  I’ll definitely be exploring making a festive version as we get closer to Christmas.

Cloud Dough

Blogtober – Day 29 Halloween Bat Bookmarks

Bat Bookmark
We had a Halloween themed evening at Rainbows and Brownies this evening.  As well as dressing up and playing lots of games, the girls also made these fabulous bookmarks.  They are so easy to make that I thought I would share them with you.  I’ll definitely be doing them with Rory!

All you need is:
– An A4 sheet of coloured paper
– A scrap of white paper
– Googly eyes or white sticker dots to make eyes
– Glue stick
– Scissors

1. Cut a 10cm square from your coloured paper.
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2. Using the offcut, draw a set of wings for your bat and put these aside.
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3. Fold your square in half diagonally
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4. Fold it in half again diagonally to make a smaller triangle
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5. Open out smaller triangle so you have the big triangle and lay it in front of you with the point facing down
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6. Fold the top corners down to the bottom corner.  The top edge should meet the middle of your triangle.
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7. Open it back out to the large triangle again and then folding just the top layer take the bottom corner up to the top.
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8. Now refold the two top corners down so they cover the triangle flap you have just created.
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9. Tuck the ends underneath the triangle.  The body of your bat is now complete.
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10. Now take your scrap of white paper and cut out two fangs.  Put a dab of glue at the top, on the front of the fang and stick them under the triangle (where you just folded up the ends) Place them so they dangle down.
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11. Take the wings that you made earlier and glue these to the back of your bat.
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12. Finally add a pair of googly eyes.
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13. Your bat is now ready to help keep your place in your reading book
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Why not let your imagination go wild with them?
As you can see from the girls’ creations they also look great in other colours!
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Blogtober: Day 28 – Ditch The Milestone Lists!

Milestones
Often Mums are asked what advice they would give to other Mums and one of mine would be that Every Child Is Different!

With our first son, we joined NCT and we often joke, as I’ve heard other parenting friends do too, that you do NCT to buy friends.  I am eternally grateful to Rory for the friendships I have with some of the NCT mothers six years on.  However, because the children are all the same age, you can’t help but compare them.  I can remember thinking ‘Little Johnny is rolling, why isn’t our son rolling?’ or ‘Little Johnny is sleeping through, why isn’t our child sleeping through.’  And then of course, there’s Google and the websites with lists telling you at what age children ought to do things.

Parenting Rowan, our second son, has definitely felt more liberating because I don’t have other babies around us who are his precise age.  Also, and I’m not sure why, but I haven’t felt the need to keep consulting those dreaded lists to see what he should be doing.

It’s fascinating to me that that our boys have the same parents and have been raised in the same parenting style and yet they could not be more different!  In almost all aspects of their lives they are polar opposites.  When Rory was a baby, he loved to co sleep and he wouldn’t fall asleep unless you stayed with him until he was completely asleep.  In contrast Rowan finds having someone in his room far too over stimulating and he just wants to play.  Bedtimes for him consist of milk, stories, songs and then a goodnight kiss followed by a swift exit.

Sometimes it is hard to believe it but we are all doing a great job.  We do the very best we can for our children and we make choices for them because we know them and we do what we believe is best for them.  The online lists of milestones don’t know your child.  Children excel at different things and they develop at different rates.  Letting go of these lists, is so liberating because you lose the worry.

For the purpose of this post, I had a little look at what Rowan should be doing at his age.  One of these lists suggests that at 20 months children should be learning ten new words a day.  Rowan doesn’t speak other than a collection of animal noises.  He can mimic plenty of sounds but at the moment he doesn’t chose to blend these together into words.  Should I have been following the list, I’d be going barmy by now as to why he wasn’t talking.  What good is that doing?  It’s not good for my self esteem as a parent to feel like I’m failing and its not good for the child to be potentially harassed into talking.  He’s going to talk at some point and can confidently use baby signing to express himself so there’s no need for the stress of the monthly milestone expectations.

I’d thorough urge you to have a milestone detox and ditch the list too!  Instead, take time to celebrate the milestones, big and small, as your child achieves them.

Blogtober: Day 27 Pumpkin Picking

Pumpkin Picking
A lot of my friends have been taking their children pumpkin picking for several years now.  I have to admit I was very skeptical as to how this would be fun.  After all essentially this is visiting a field full of pumpkins.  I grew up with a Dad working on a farm and so spent many childhood days in farmers’ field but I wondered if it would cut the mustard for the technology fuelled generation?

Rory was absolutely in his element from the moment he arrived.  He proudly told the lady greeting that it was his first time and was delighted when she invited him to chose a wheel barrow.  He had a wonderful time pushing it around the fields collecting pumpkins.  He also loved going round inspecting each pumpkin and choosing which ones he liked best.

For Rowan it was a very different experience.  He really enjoyed picking up the pumpkins and loading them into the wheelbarrow.  The ones he couldn’t lift he enjoyed rolling around.  He was fascinated at being surrounded by thousands of pumpkins.

My poor husband was under strict orders that he was to bring his camera and take some nice photos of the boys.  He is not really a ‘donning the wellies’ type of guy but he really got into the spirit of the occasion and took some fantastic photos of the boys too.

We went to quite a simplistic venue I think.  It was essentially a couple of fields full of pumpkins.  I think we could have travelled further afar and found other pumpkin related attractions alongside the pumpkin picking but we enjoyed the simplicity and it was a lovely way to spend an hour!

It’s very true what veterans tell you -you will not come away with only one or two pumpkins.  We bought an entire wheelbarrow full of pumpkins which I have used to decorate our home and the boys will carve the larger ones.  They were so reasonable priced and I liked the idea that we were supporting a local farming family rather than a huge supermarket.  When halloween is over, they won’t be wasted as we’ll turn them into a range of pumpkin treats including soup, stews and pie!

I definitely think we’ve started a new family tradition for us.
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Blogtober: Day 26 Road Tripping With Children – Cardiff

Following on from our day in Brighton, we decided to brave it and drive the whole way to Cardiff.  Originally we had thought about stopping half way, but we wanted to make the most of our time there.

This was definitely wise as we just didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate the city.  We had a fantastic day but we could have done so much more!  Here’s a few suggestions of good places to visit with children.

1.) Story Museum Cardiff
According to the posters inside, it is one of the top ten museums for families in the UK.  This is a bold statement and I’m not sure I’d place it in the top ten of museums I have visited BUT it was a really great place to visit.  Essentially the museum tells the story of Cardiff through a variety of interactive displays.  The grown ups really appreciated learning about the history of Cardiff and the boys really liked how hands on everything was.  Even Rowan, who is 20 months old, was entertained.  He particularly enjoyed a race between a horse, boat and train to who can transport a delivery the quickest.  This was hilarious as every square for the horse was either Miss A Go or Go Back 3 Spaces.  My favourite display was a model of a house on Cathedral Street.  Each side of the house was from a different time period.  You pressed a button and the windows lit up so you could see who was living in the house from the 1890s to present day.  The people inside the house moved too.  It was really fascinating!

2.) Bute Park
Bute Park was really beautiful to walk through.  We  were really fortunate that because it is Autumn there was a blanket of crunchy leaves to play in.  It would be a great place to cycle or scoot in too.  There was a lovely tea room to visit too.  We really enjoyed walking down the side of the castle  and the views of the castle walls and keep.

3.) The Animal Wall
One side of Cardiff Castle has animals going along the top of it and Rory absolutely loved walking down and seeing which animals he could see.  There was a full range from otters to hyenas!

4.) Cardiff City Carousel
I love a little bit of traditional fun and a carousel really encapsulates this for me.  It was a beautiful double decker carousel with lots of beautiful animals to ride on.  Rory said it was his favourite part of the day.

If we’d’ve had more time, we would love to have visited the castle properly too.
Finally, all souvenir shops are not created equal and we found that the smaller ones definitely had higher quality gifts in!

Blogtober: Day 25 Road Tripping With Children – Brighton

Road Tripping Brighton.jpg

Following on from our visit to Hastings (check out yesterday’s Blog post if you’d like to find out more about that), we then carried on along the coast to Eastbourne.  I’m only giving this the briefest of mentions because what we did here was not in the slightest bit child friendly.  However if you happen to be in Eastbourne with grown up friends, we’d fully recommend Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel.  Beautiful surroundings, decorated opulently, great service and delicious food.  Mummy and Daddy loved it!
tea
This Autumn, our town of Ashford has been fortunate enough to be visited by about 50 Snowdogs, as in Raymond Briggs – The Snowman and The Snowdog.  Some big ones which have been decorated by local artists and some puppies which were decorated by schools.  Eventually they are going to be auctioned off for our local hospice.
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In a similar vein, Brighton has been visited by snails along with the slogan #BeMoreSnail
This was a great way to tour the town and see the sights because Mummy and Daddy enjoyed a bit of sightseeing and the boys enjoyed looking for the snails.  There is an app to help you find them but this will set you back £2 (with only £1 of that going to a Brighton Hospice).  Lots of children also seemed to have a paper map but we just did it freestyle!
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If you’ve read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I love activities which I call ‘language rich’ and encourage conversation and these snails definitely do that as each one is decorated in a very different way.  They all really reflect Brighton (I’d say much more than The Snowdogs represents Ashford.  Most of those just look attractive!)

The vast majority of our day was spent snail hunting but I did managed to sneak in a little bit of shopping and would throughly recommend a visit to The Lanes which is filled with wonderfully quirky shops, and not the usual chains.  These are all located in another part of the city.  Rory especially loved a gorgeous toy shop called Whirligig (on Gardner Street) which is well worth a visit if you’re a fan of wooden and creative toys.

Image result for whirligig brighton
We obviously couldn’t visit Brighton without having a visit to the pier, especially as there was a Snail located there!  Continuing with our seaside traditions from yesterday, we had fish and chips here whilst looking out to sea.  It was a beautiful sight.  There’s also amusements and rides at the end of the pier and obviously you can’t visit a pier with a silly photo opportunity!

pier
If the weather had been warmer then we definitely would have had a play on the beach too.  Once we were snailed out, we continued on with our Road Trip and headed to Cardiff….