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Crocodile Creek

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I’ve been on the hunt for some dinner  place mats for Boo and Roo, and discovered these super fun Crocodile Creek ones. I chose the World Map for Boo and we’ve had a great time learning about different places in the world. It’s brought up some really interesting dinner time conversations about where people live and what ocean you might have to cross to visit friends in Australia. Around the edge of the place mat is a selection of ‘can you find…?’ questions, it’s been so lovely to see Boo try to identify the five oceans, seven continents and work out where our tiny little island is. I am really keen for her to be able to point out countries, continents and oceans, as I’m sure I only really got taught about meandering rivers at school! Hopefully, as she and Roo grow we’ll be able to explore many more places across the globe.

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For Roo I chose the Barnyard 123 mat, it has such cute illustrations of numbers and farm-yard friends and finds. We’ve been making farm-yard animal noises much to Roo’s delight and I thought this will be a great counting mat as he grows. Around the edge it even has the numbers written in German, Spanish and French, as well as English. This has been fun for Boo too as she has recently learnt about France during a multicultural day at school, so was keen to tell me what she’d learnt.

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The mat’s are so easily wipe able after meal times, a good size and great value for money. I used blue tack to hold them in place on the table, that way Roo’s stays in one spot! I love the discussions that are arising from having them in place each day, and I think I might purchase a few more later in the year too. I really love the look of the Solar System mat, which I think Boo would love and also the ABC House mat  which I think will be a great one for Roo next time.

They arrived well packaged and within good time so I will definitely be ordering from Play Merrily Toy Shop again!

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Wishful thinking

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Yesterday I was an emotional rollercoaster. No one died. No one got hurt. Nothing major actually happened. Yesterday I worried about a million things that might happen, could happen and probably wouldn’t happen. Yesterday I cried, smiled, laughed, shouted, cursed and giggled.

Yesterday is over.

Yesterday…

I need to sort nursery care for Roo two days a week, as I return to work part-time in a few weeks. I need to sort after school care for Boo. I have no work clothes. I have no clothes. I need to sort out things for a boot fair. I had to submit my QTLS application to the IFL before the end of the month. It’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow. I messed up the dates for when my Mum is meant to be coming to stay in a few weeks. I shouted at D…it was always going to be his fault. I sorted the dates. Am I a bad Mum for returning to work?  It’s good that I work. I enjoy working. I want to be a stay at home Mum. I’m going to write a book. Perhaps we should go on holiday. Let’s go to Italy. I got annoyed at D for being realistic and stating that we probably shouldn’t book a holiday until after we move. What shall we do for my 30th? Let’s look at wedding venues. I’m probably the only person in the world who has been engaged forever. Roo might need shoes soon. I need to speak to the nursery about his routine. It might rain and Boo’s sport’s day might get cancelled. Remember to go to get eyebrows waxed tomorrow. What is this baby hair I have growing near my fringe? Boo needs a haircut. I wonder what Roo’s hair will be like when he get’s older. Let me check my teaching timetable for next year. I need to read through that stack of books. It’s so hot in here. At least we’ll have a garden when the house is built. It’s so annoying living in this apartment. It’s been so cool living here. I wonder if we can see the house soon.

D: Do you want to go and do the food shopping and I’ll look after Roo?

It was 9:40am.

Honestly how had I managed to let my mind go into overdrive like that?!

It’s not the first time, in fact my brain quite frequently works like this and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’m also pretty convinced that social media must take responsibility for my ridiculous ‘they are having such a beautiful life’ envy. Ok, I’m responsible for using my social media feeds, but I wonder how much more focused I might have been yesterday and how much more accepting and contented I might have been if I didn’t check my Instagram or Facebook account so often?

Yesterday I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed by silly things. D had a pretty rubbish day too. Possibly not helped by my little outbursts, but hey we have been engaged forever so he really is used to them by now.

After picking Boo up from school, we loaded up the car and decided to head out to a local woodland.

Me: Do you want to take your phone?

D: No, leave it here.

The sun was beaming through the canopy of trees and the breeze whispered through the leaves. We stopped and made a den in a clearing. For that moment, in the stillness of the air and the quietness of our movements, it was just us. The four of us. Amongst real life. I sighed. I smiled. I watched Boo and D carry tree branches. I moved Roo closer in the pram so he could see what we were doing. In that moment nothing mattered at all. Right then I was contented. So happy. I’d escaped on my own door step, with the people I adore the most. We were so free. No constraints. No work calls for D. Just the four of us. Building a den. Building a home.

Perhaps that was the lesson I needed to learn. When you strip it all away. Back to basics. That’s all we are really doing. All that worrying about nursery placements, clothes, schools, work, holidays, weddings, and more. All we are really trying to do is build our family home. That’s why we are working. That’s why we are juggling it all. That’s why we came home and had a family dinner at the table. Together.

Yesterday I built a den with my family in the woods. Yesterday I drank mojitos in the evening with my fiancé. Yesterday my daughter moved up a level in her reading, I hugged her so hard. Yesterday my son giggled so much at his big sister. Yesterday we got a step closer to building our family home.

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Stella XXX

 

 

 

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Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary!

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Can you believe that the famous Gruffalo story is 15 years old?! To help celebrate, this summer the forestry commission have set up a number trails and activities for little explorers to discover and follow. Our local forest taking part is the beautiful Bedgebury, which has an amazing National Pinetum. I headed over there a few weeks back with Roo and Daddy, whilst Boo was at school. Daddy wanted a bike ride and I thought I’d check out the trail to take Boo another day. It feels so naughty going places with out her sometimes!

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We will definitely be back this summer for Boo to take on the adventure trails and follow the characters along the track. The Gruffalo is a firm favourite in our house and I know it’s as popular now as it ever has been. Axel Scheffler’s friendly and charismatic illustrations alongside Julia Donaldson’s wonderful rhymes are a little ones perfect story time combination. Head on over to the forestry commission website to check out where your nearest trail is. Beware, ‘his eye’s are orange, his tongue is black and he has purple prickles all over his back!’

Stella xxx

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Boys and bicycles

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I find it almost impossible to find baby boys clothes that are quirky and cute. However Zara really seems to be appealing right now for boys clothes. Their designs are classic yet playful and the fabrics are baby friendly.

I recently purchased Roo these fun shorts, I think he’ll live in them all Summer long. 20140612-120630.jpg

Stella xxx

 

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Little learners

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“What did you do at school today?”
“Um, can’t remember.”
“Who did you play with?”
“I’m tired, can I have something to eat?”

That’s pretty much how the ‘how was your day?’ conversation goes with five year old Boo. Open ended questions do help, but it’s so hard for her to remember all the things she’s done at school, it’s a skill she’s still acquiring. It’s important that I encourage the conversation though as it will help her to develop memory skills.

One area that she is still very much at the very beginning of understanding is reflection. Before bed we like to have a few minutes to reflect on the day, generally about what was good, bad, funny, happy, sad, scary etc. I can see her little brain processing away, as she might suddenly recall something from yesterday/a week ago/ ages ago that she needs to discuss.

So, whilst working my way through the shelves at TK Maxx I came across these super forms for kids to fill out.

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Boo loves anything that looks grown up so I knew that they would appeal to her, plus they come with stickers, and anything with stickers gets her vote!

I found two different pads to choose. One named ‘goodnight’ which is just so sweet, it gives the child space to fill out their name,  tick some quirky adjectives and asks them what they want to dream about that night, alongside what they will be looking forward to tomorrow. I loved that the section can either be written or smaller children could draw a picture. The sheet allowed for some great discussion about word meanings, spellings and Boo was excited to share what was silly or yucky. Most of all for us the reason these forms appealed to me is that Boo’s father works in the evenings a lot, so she could tick ‘Goodnight Daddy’ at the bottom and leave it at the end of her bed, for him to find. A fantastic way to share a bit of her day with him!

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I then came across ‘I tried it’ sheets,

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which are so good for confidence building and remembering those moments like trying a new food, riding a bike or swimming without arm bands. It’s so great to discuss with the little one how that experience made them feel and that they can write down or draw what they liked. These forms are such a lovely way to develop children’s emotional literacy skills. They are a super way to encourage children to reflect and piece together moments of time.

Boo tried out some clown skills, attempting to balance on stilts and hoola hoop on a recent day out, she loved sharing it on her form.

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These wonderful pads are made by knock knock and their website is knockknockstuff.com. My local TK Maxx had a few copies and I would love to see if I can track down what else they have.

Sorry I can’t send a direct link to them, but thought I’d share them as they are such fun! Please let me know if anyone manages to get hold of some!

Stella xxx

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Summer sandals

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Considering that English summers tend to be extremely unpredictable I am reluctant to spend a fortune on sandals that Boo might only wear for a few short weeks, or in some cases days. However, I like to be optimistic and so seeing as we had a super summer last year, I’m going stand by the motto ‘things can only get better’, right?!

I’ve been trawling the net in search for traditional looking girls sandals, that will go with most outfits and look stylish and classic…obviously comfortable and practical too. I came across these beautiful SunSan Saltwater sandals, they have such a wonderful story of how they came to become an American loved sandal. Unfortunately at the moment these would be such a splurge though and so whilst coveting them I happened to spot a similar looking sandal in GAP, and was so pleased to discover these adorable sandals. Boo loves them and they really do just go with everything. They fit nicely around her ankles, are a gorgeous colour and are definitely a classic design.

Let’s hope they bring the sunshine out for the whole Summer!

Stella xxx

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Grainy days and Mondays

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Loving bulgar wheat right now. Such a fab alternative to couscous. I made a basic Tabbouleh recipe using cooked bulgar wheat, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, a red onion, mint and parsley. Tossed it all together with a glug of olive oil and voilà! We had it on its own but it’s a perfect accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken.

Happy bank holiday! Not quite as sunny here as yesterday was…. Come back sunshine.

Stella xxx