Little Miss A is rolling!

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Playing with your kids – boring or fun?

I recently read an article that said playing with your children was boring.  Ok I thought when I first saw the headline I am not going to pretend I absolutely love playing with Little Mr A every minute of the day, his new ‘trumping on people’ game is certainly not one I enjoy joining in with, but I do enjoy playing with him.  The more I read of the article the more I was quite disgusted at the sentiment in it.  Why this person ever had children is beyond me!

Little Mr A reading and playing

Little Mr A reading and playing

In my opinion, when you chose to have children you give up your life for the next 16-18 years (or longer! )to be there for your child’s needs.  This is not to say you can’t still have adult time, however, your children come first.  Yes this will include doing things that maybe you aren’t too entertained by, but so what!  Even if I am not particularly enjoying a game we are playing/place we are visiting, seeing Little Mr A happy makes me happy.

Who's having more fun?!

Who’s having more fun?!

I think parents have a big responsibility to teach their children how to play both by themselves and with others.  How many times have you been to a playgroup and seen either a child sat on their own or running around taking toys off other children as they have not been taught how to play properly?  I am not professing to be the perfect Mum who drops everything as soon as Little Mr A says play with me.  Yes there are times that jobs need doing and I have to say no, however, at weekends we will often take it in turns to either go and play lego/trains etc in his room or bring a game downstairs for the whole family to play together.

Playing board games is a favourite Sunday afternoon activity

Playing board games is a favourite Sunday afternoon activity

I don’t consider ‘play’ to be just using toys.  I think anything you can make fun and do together with your child could be considered ‘playing’.  For instance baking, crafts, even getting them to help you with the cleaning can be made into a fun game.  Little Mr A is always asking if he can help with the cooking.

Little Mr A has always loved helping with cooking

Little Mr A has always loved helping with cooking

It is hard sometimes to find the imagination to play with your children and I must admit I do prefer playing actual games or doing jigsaws with Little Mr A, however, I try to remember what it was like when I was a child playing with Barbies etc and all the fun things me and my sister used to play.

Me & my sister used to have great fun (check out those matching outfits!)

Me & my sister used to have great fun (check out those matching outfits!)

I do think it is important for children to learn to play on their own too but sometimes I find Little Mr A needs starting off with something to play with then he will quite happily carry on playing on his own.  At the moment he is spending a lot of time in his bedroom building lots of little lego things for a ‘show’ he is going to do!

I join in with IzziWizzi playfest on a Tuesday night on Twitter which is a group of mums getting together to discuss different play ideas (and see my previous post).  If anyone is doubting how fun playing with your child is I suggest joining in with us!  I think us mums often get more excited about new toys and play ideas than our children!

How do other parents feel about playing with their children?  Do you find it a pleasure or a chore?

Half term fun (& not so fun!)

If I am being completely honest I was not looking forward to half term last week.  It was the first time I was going to be on my own with both of my babies and Little Mr A has been a little sod challenging lately to say the least!

I knew it was going to be a hard week and I was not wrong!  Although it was nice to be able to have a bit of lazy time together without rushing around getting ready for school, the constant noise and lack of any personal space has been rather difficult to cope with!  I fell out a lot with Little Mr A.  I love him to pieces and it hurts so much to argue with him all of the time but it is just so frustrating when he won’t listen to anything!  I want my lovely little chap back that we took on holiday last year, not this monster that we seem to bring home from school everyday!

If I hadn’t kept him entertained I could understand him getting bored and frustrated which is usually when he starts to play up, however, I did only the essential cleaning like the pots/washing, the housework I thought could wait a week!  Little Miss A was either asleep or laid on the floor entertaining herself so I could spend as much time as possible with Little Mr A.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much we do with him, it’s never enough!

I know he is struggling to come to terms with not being an only child anymore but I don’t know what else we can do to make him feel included.  He is beginning to play with Little Miss A more now she is getting bigger but some days he is so rough, shouting and laughing really loud right in her face or trying to roll her around and when we tell him to stop he just doesn’t listen.

At the moment all treats are banned.  He is having no computer games or i-Pad and no T.V. programmes of his at all.  He tried to convince me that Total Wipeout was my programme and that we could watch it, but I wasn’t falling for it!

I am really hoping he settles down soon, I don’t know how much more we can take.  I hate to see him so upset and emotional when he has been told off but the nicely, nicely approach just doesn’t work anymore!  I feel like I am being such a bad mum sometimes and that he must hate me, but my patience is wearing so thin I can’t help but snap at him.

Having said all that (!) we did manage to do some fun things in between the bickering…

making binocularsmaking cupcakesmaking pancakesmaking cardstrip to magnalego

I can’t say I am looking forward to the Easter holidays in a few weeks, however, I am hoping the weather will be nice so I can shut him outside let him play outside!

I hope everyone else’s half terms have been/will be more successful!

Review – Magic Moves Wand

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about Little Mr A’s love of technology and said I was looking for new technology to get him up and about and more active.  When I saw the opportunity to review the Magic Moves Wand made by Educational Insights and sold in the UK by Learning Resources I thought it looked like a great way to get him moving.

wand

The idea of the wand is that when the ‘play’ button is pressed the wand will light up and tell your child an action to perform.  Music will then play whilst your child performs the action.  If they miss what has been said they can press the ‘repeat’ button to hear it again. There are 90 different actions to be performed and 26 different musical tunes, each one having it’s own different light show.  The actions are things such as ‘Hop like a Frog’, ‘Wiggle like a Worm’, ‘Grow like a Beanstalk’…

At intervals, whilst performing the action, the wand will tell them to ‘Freeze’ or ‘March’ to add a different element to the game.  Also, at certain times the wand will say ‘Lets Dance’ which has it’s own three different tunes, ‘Techno’, ‘Afro-Pop’ and ‘Latin Salsa’.

The wand is aimed at children aged 3+ and the idea is that it gets them up and moving to exercise whilst also helping with creativity and listening skills.

Here is Little Mr A demonstrating how the Magic Moves Wand works:

At first, Little Mr A loved the wand.  He really enjoyed carrying out the actions and dancing around to the music, however, after the initial enthusiasm the wand has been left lying in his bedroom, unplayed.  I think perhaps he is a bit too old for the wand and it would be better enjoyed by younger children as there is not much to keep older children engaged for long.

I am sure 3 year olds would love the wand, particularly if they are into animals and the different sounds/actions they do.  Little Miss A was very taken with the lights and music!

I do like the concept of the wand as I think it is a good way to encourage children to move and dance, however, as I said above, I think it is more aimed at younger children.  I am sure if Little Mr A had a friend over they would probably play with it for a short while but cannot see it becoming a regular toy in his play routine.

Priced at around £15-£20 I do not think it is too unreasonably priced and would make a nice gift for younger children.  It is great quality, feels really sturdy and robust and comes with batteries included.

I think the wand would be great for playgroups and nurseries as I think children would have a lot of fun together performing the various actions.

Overall a good toy for younger children and groups and a reasonable price.

If you would like the chance to win one please head over to Learning Resources’ Facebook page, they have 5 to give away!

Review – East Park, Hull

DSCF2533The one thing I miss now we don’t live in Hull is being able to pop to East Park.  We only used to live just around the corner so could often be found there on a Sunday afternoon or I would take Little Mr A when we had our Mondays off together.

When you think of a park you think of a bit of green space and maybe a few swings, slides etc.  Well East Park has this but also so much more.  As well as the usual play park which is full of activities for all ages, there is also 130 acres of parkland to enjoy ranging from open space to more wooded areas where you can spot many a squirrel!

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There is also a lake with splash boats and rowing boats in the summer, an animal education centre and a great cafe.

The animal education centre is a great place for children.  There are so many animals to see including snakes, tarantulas, millipedes, beetles, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, deer, alpacas, wallabies, chickens, parrots and peacocks.  There is also a walk through aviary which includes exotic birds, Koi carp and a waterfall.  Be warned though, once when I took Little Mr A there was a peacock stood in the middle of the path as we went in.  It had it’s feathers up and would not let us pass.  It was quite scary as once you are in you cannot get out without walking all the way around and there was no-one else about.  Eventually I managed to sneak past hiding behind the pushchair, we must have looked ridiculous to anyone watching!  Another great thing about the animal education centre is it is free.

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If you need to take a break there is a great cafe where you can get tea, cold drinks, cake, paninis, etc and when it’s cold you can warm up with one of their lovely hot chocolates!  The cafe can get quite busy as they cater for a lot of groups but there is seating outside and you can take the food out with you.  They do have a few children’s toys and books in one corner so when it is quiet in there it is a nice place to sit with your children and they can be kept occupied whilst you have a nice cuppa!

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If you like to be a bit more active you can hire a bike to go around the park, I have also seen running clubs there to but have never found out more about this as I am hopeless at running!

Throughout the year there are often events taking place.  The main one we always try to visit is the fair in October.  When Hull fair finishes a lot of the rides and attractions take off to different parts of the country but some of them stay and set up in East Park for a weekend.  I’m not keen on taking Little Mr A to Hull fair when it is on as it is so big and busy I can’t relax and worry all the time I am going to lose him (I know I need to losen up a bit!) so this is a great compromise.  He gets to go on the fairground rides but there is nowhere near as many people around!

So if you are looking for something to do with your children on a visit to Hull that doesn’t cost much, I would highly recommend East Park!

For directions and more details please click here.

Become an IzziWizzi Toy Reviewer in 2013

Picture from the IzziWizzi Kids Facebook page

Picture from the IzziWizzi Kids Facebook page

IzziWizzi Kids are looking for families to become toy reviewers in 2013.

You do not have to have a blog to apply, all families can enter.  What you have to do to be considered is create a video about their Playfest and why you would like to become a reviewer.  The video needs to be uploaded to their Facebook page and then you have to fill in a brief application form.

For more information on the application process please click here.

Why not take a look at my video for some inspiration…

So, what is Playfest?

Picture from izziwizzikids.co.uk

Picture from izziwizzikids.co.uk

Playfest takes place on Twitter between half 8 and half 9 on a Tuesday night and on Facebook at the same time on a Thursday night.  All you need to do to take part is ‘follow’ IzziWizzi Kids on Twitter or ‘like’ their page on Facebook you will then be able to join in! It is a chance for people to get together and discuss different toys and either provide their opinion or gain some advice and information on different toy brands.

I took part in one for Orchard toys before Christmas as my son loves their games and has a lot of them!  It was nice for me to be able to give my opinion on the games he had. Hopefully I helped people to understand a bit more about them and maybe even gave them some ideas for Christmas presents.  Also, I was able to gain information from other people about the different games he hasn’t got and ideas for  games that he might like as he gets older.

It really is a great way to gain information about different toys from real people who have experience of them rather than just the corporate information.

IzziWizzi works with lots of different toy brands and a different one is discussed each week.

Good luck to everyone that applies!

Snow much fun!

Well what an afternoon Little Mr A and I have had!  We thought we would get out in the snow and make the most of it instead of sitting inside moaning about it….

First we (well I) made a snowman…

Had to improvise with food colouring and chip spice!

Had to improvise with food colouring and chip spice!

Then Little Mr A made snow angels (he was on his own with this one, I’m not completely stupid!)…

He's 'snow' angel!

He’s ‘snow’ angel!

Then came the most fun I have had in ages (I need to get out more!).  In the park next to our house is a small hill (well not really a hill but a bit of a mound) so I dug out a tray (seen as we have no sleigh) and we spent ages taking it in turns to ‘sledge’ down the hill – even Daddy came out for two minutes for a turn.

Ready....

Ready….

...Go!

…Go!

Even Big Mr A couldn't resist a go!

Even Big Mr A couldn’t resist a go!

I love having days like today, it makes me remember what fun it is to be a Mum and why I had children in the first place, it’s not all shouting and stress!

 

Homemade Eye Spy Game

Thank you to my sister in law for this idea!

This is a great game to make with your child and something to keep them entertained on long car journeys!

What you will need:-

An empty plastic bottle or tub with the label removed (we used a quality street tub)

Lots of small trinkets – we used items such as small animals, a lego man, a peg, lollipop sticks, a small car, a cork, craft items, a srew etc.  Anything small that you can fit it the top of the bottle/jar!

A bag of rice (we used 1kg Sainsburys basics long grain rice)

Some glue

Eye Spy Collage

Eye Spy Collage

How to make it:-

Remove the label from your bottle/jar and clean off any of the sticky glue.  Put in the trinkets and treasures you have found (making sure you have made a list of them first!).  Fill jar/bottle with rice then glue on the lid (unless you want rice all over your floor!).

Your child should now be able to find any item by rolling and tipping the bottle/jar!

A simple and cheap game that is fun to make.  The only thing we bought was the rice which cost 40p!  Little Mr A had a lot of fun finding things to put into it.

Eye-Spy

Little Miss A’s first trip to Scotland

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As a family we have a big connection to Scotland. Big Mr A’s family are Scottish and his eldest sister lives in Edinburgh. Every year since we have been together we have made at least one trip up, apart from 2012 as we worked out on our trip up this time. We even got engaged in Edinburgh!

Little Mr A had his first trip up when he was 10 weeks old and now Little Miss A has had her first trip up at 11 weeks!

Little Miss A was really good on the journey up, she slept most of the way! She was great for us the first night and enjoyed sleeping in her cousin’s Moses basket!

After a morning playing at Aunty L and Uncle N’s with cousins J and E we went to a soft play centre for the boys to let off some steam! The girls slept much to our annoyance as we had has to pay for them even though they weren’t going to play! Shame on you Scrambles!

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After lunch we headed off to the Gyle Shopping Centre where we stopped at M&S for tea and a feed before doing some girly clothes shopping for Little Miss A. Lots of after Christmas sales meant lots of bargains and Little Miss A’s 6-9 month wardrobe now has more than 1 outfit in it!

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Back at Aunty L and Uncle N’s Little Miss A decided to have a good old wiggle on cousin E’s playmat and almost managed to roll right over! Then she had a bath with cousin E before Little Mr A had a bath with cousin J, but I don’t think it will be long before they stop wanting baths together!

Little Miss A must have been very tired from all the excitement and wriggling as she slept through for the first time that night!

In the morning Little Miss A had her first bus trip when we visited the National Museum of Scotland. It is a great interactive place for children with lots of different activities and things to do, and best of all, it is free admission. Although the food was perhaps a little expensive it was very nice and seen as entry is free you don’t mind too much. If we go again I think I would be more organised and take a packed lunch with us!

museum

After letting the children play for a while we got them to bed as early as they would go and had a lovely curry before we had to head home the next day.

It is great to have family up in Edinburgh, we have lots of happy memories of being there as a couple and now we are able to share that with our children.

Cousins

Cousins

Review – Scrambles Soft Play EICA:Ratho Edinburgh International Climbing Arena

ImageWhilst on our most recent trip up to Scotland we visited Scrambles Soft Play at EICA:Ratho, part of the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena.

Situated just 5 miles past Edinburgh airport on the West side of the City it is a large activity centre for all ages.

Today we visited the soft play centre.  Although fairly pricey at £4.90 for 1 hour and £5.90 for 90 minutes at over 18 months the actual soft play facility is better than some others we have visited.  I was however very disappointed to have to pay £1 for Little Miss A to go into the centre even though, at 2 months old, she slept the whole time!  I appreciate it is only £1 extra but feel this is a bit cheeky when the price for older children is quite expensive and it is unlikely that any child under 6 months is going to use the facilities, even though they have a baby section.  I almost woke Little Miss A up to get her moneys worth but decided not to be so cruel!

As it was very busy today we were not allowed to stay more than 1 hour and the time is well monitored by the workers.  It is very well restricted as to how many children are allowed in at any one time, which was refreshing as I can find soft play centres to be horrendously busy which is no fun for child, parent or staff!

There were plenty of seats and tables for us to sit at in view of the various play equipment so we were never far away from Little Mr A but could allow him to go off and play by himself without having to worry.  He went with his cousin J who is not quite 3 and he to was able to go off with Little Mr A to play with no worries.

Whilst there we had some lunch and I think this is where the centre stands out from others we have visited in the past.  Both myself and Big Mr A had a sandwich with crisps and a drink and for children they do a great lunch bucket where you can pick 5 different items for £3.95.  It was very reasonably priced and very tasty!

As for the play equipment itself it was very clean and really well laid out in the different age appropriate sections.  There was a baby play area, a toddler play area and then a separate play area for children aged 4-9 which was well separated from the younger children’s areas.  There was plenty to keep Little Mr A and J occupied for the full hour they were there including the usual soft play equipment and slides together with a mini climbing wall.  They had a great time chasing each other around!

Although it is a good place to take your older children I would say they really need to get rid of the charge for the under 6 month olds as I think that really if you have a young baby you would be able to find somewhere cheaper elsewhere that doesn’t charge for young babies.  This is the only thing that really lets the place down, other than the soft play centre being on the very ground floor which can only be accessed by a lift with a pram/pushchair and there is only one lift available.

When Little Mr A gets older it would be nice to take him back to have a go on the climbing walls it looked like good fun, however, I might have to get Big Mr A to take him as I don’t know whether my nerves could handle it!

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