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Beat The School Holiday Rip Offs

This is the first time I have booked a week off work in THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!

No problem-I thought. I’ll beat the price hikes by holiday companies and beat the system. I’ll book a Sun newspaper £10 holiday. So I Googled the passwords and avidly got to work booking my July holiday.

I chose Devon first- plenty of dates available-in 2015!

Then I chose Somerset- plenty of dates available in October!

Ok I’ll stay close to home-a holiday park up the road in South Wales. Not a sausage! I give up!

Lots of exclamation marks I know but it was very frustrating indeed.

Deflated I knew I had to book a full price holiday. So typing in Devon holiday parks I got to work searching. The prices varied from an eyes on stalks £1,000 for a week to the lowest of around £679 for a week.

I just didn’t have that sort of money and more importantly I didn’t feel like a week in a caravan was worth that sort of money-just because it was July.

So my next step was to wait for a last minute holiday. I set a budget of £300 which I might add made a private caravan owner laugh when I turned down her caravan for £490.

And I waited. Every day I scoured Teletext holidays.

My friends started going on their holidays and I started to think my frugality was going to get me the Worst Mum Of The Year Award.

We’d have to stay at home.

The Monday before my week off began my luck came in.

I found a holiday cottage in Brixham in Devon within budget. My first choice of location. It started life as £627. I’m winning. I checked Trip Advisor and the location had over 6 marks out of 10. Great.

The packing began. My little girl started counting down her sleeps.

Then I began to worry- I must have done something wrong to have got this. Once on the motorway to go to Devon I had to pull in. We’d gone less than 10 miles. “I think I’ve booked the wrong dates” I said. I pulled the car in and checked the confirmation. No. I’d booked it right. Phew. Off we went again.

We arrived in Devon and I was half expecting poor accommodation. To my delight we opened our cottage door and found lovely clean sheets in the beds, a nice clean apartment, two nice bedrooms, beautiful views out to sea and a patio door opening to a little garden.

And there the holiday began. We had a fantastic time and my little girl had lots of those precious ‘first experiences’. She went on a ferry to Torquay, had a horse carriage ride on the beach, went crabbing on the harbourside and went on a pirate ship.

I wanted to share my journey with you because I found the huge hike in prices really shocking.

Bide your time and set a budget- I’m sure you’ll have a holiday like ours.

I’m off again in a few weeks time. £1 camp sites offer this time- can I do it all again?

I’ll let you know

Thank you for reading my blog.

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All a Toys Are Rubbish

Real life is better.

How many times I have you heard a parent say that their child played with the cardboard boxes for longer than the toy?

Most toys don’t do enough to keep children occupied yet we fill our homes with them. Ok I know some toys are great 🙂

As a working mum with traditional values I find you can’t go wrong with these ideas:

HOMEMADE PIZZAS

Making the dough and putting all the toppings on is great fun and keeps children occupied for ages. Let them help wash up too. Not only is cooking fun but it’s also educational.

SHOPPING

Keep lots of kitchen items to use for shopping games- empty cereal boxes, sweet tubes, jars and tubs. Nothing sharp. When finished everything can go in the recycling bins.

GARDENING

Give your little one a trowel and something to kneel on and they’ll play for hours. Let them help pull up weeds, sweep,play with empty plant pots and watering cans.

CRAFT

I love making things. We’ve just bought a big bag of loom bands and are happy creating things together. I love crafts using leftover household items like toilet roll binoculars, pen holders from Pringles pots and landscapes using all manner if leftover items.

COMPETITIONS

Egg and spoon races, dancing competitions, who can make the best potato face, hide and seek. Anything can be made in to a competition to create fun for hours.

COLOURING

My little one is a whizz on the ipad but she will spend longer with good old fashioned colouring lens and colouring book. I love those great big felt pictures you can colour in. Colouring books are great for dexterity, colour recognition, colour use and concentration. Tracing paper over a colouring book is also good. Pavement chalks for outdoors. Bath crayons for bath time and paint for old wallpaper. Simple fun costing very little.

I don’t think you have to spend a fortune to have fun.

Children who can a use themselves will be less demanding of attention. And will be less likely to get bored as quickly.

Sometimes movie time with a hot chocolate is a great way for the whole family to relax.

Remember your little one wants to be just like mum or dad so role play games or helping out games will be just up their street.

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Rubbish Mums

RUBBISH MUM

A pack of scented wet wipes on a white background

When your family grows by one or more you become increasingly aware of the amount of household waste that is thrown away every day-particularly when you are in the nappy phase.

I took my daughter to a science museum this weekend where one of the exhibitors were appealing to the public not to throw waste down the toilets. I’ve always disposed of nappies safely but I do sometimes throw a wet wipe down the toilet. I didn’t realise the effect this has on our water supply:

  • The wet wipe market is growing at more than 15% a year according to research
    company Nielsen.
  • They don’t break up like tissue
  • Fat sticks to them and hardens to cause what the industry call ‘Fatbergs’
  • Wet wipes will block the system as they aren’t designed to decompose

With this in mind I am going to ditch the wet wipes and go back to good old fashioned soap and water. On cue my little girl has just come running in after washing her hands-so there is life after wet wipes. Are you an eco-mum?

FEED THE BIRDS-TUPPENCE A CAKE

birdcake

Another idea I stumbled upon is bird cakes using left over cooking oil.

I bought a cheap little kit to do this but you can make the so easily.

It services two purposes-feeding the birds and creating a use for cooking oil which is hard to dispose of.

Instructions:

Get a silicone muffin case

Drape in a piece of string folded in half (So it forms a handing loop at the top)

Fill the case with birdseed

Pour in left over cooking oil

Put in the fridge to set

Another idea for old cooking oil is to put it in a vessel-leave to set and then scoop in to the food waste bin.

HEART OF GLASS

candle

Another lovely idea for re-using glass jars-cover with crystals, tie ribbon round the centre, fill with pebbles or add a tealight. The uses are endless-it’s really easy to create shabby chic jars by using pinking shears to cut hearts out of fabric and glue to the glass-tie a ribbon around the top and glue a button in the centre and you can use the jars for holding cotton buds, make up brushes, toothbrushes-what ever you like.

If you search the internet for homemade gifts you will find lots of ideas for glass jars.

It’s really satisfying making something pretty and a lovely project to do with children.

Hope you enjoyed this blog.

Next time I write I might just be wearing a kaftan

 

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What Is Santa Bringing You This Year?

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I don’t want to come over all saintly but I do get a little annoyed that all people seem to ask my little girl about Christmas is ‘What Is Santa Going To Bring You’

I’m really pleased that her first Christmas at big school is quite traditional and I’m really conscious about giving her the same experiences I had when I was growing up. When she’s older she can make her own decisions about how she wants to spend Christmas.

We went to the Christingle Ceremony last week- a Church of Wales service organised with the Reverend and her school. To me it encompassed everything I think Christmas is all about-family, celebrating our children and the wonderful qualities and talents they have, joining with your community and thinking of others-after all in essence that’s what the story of the bible is about. Believer or non believer.

I wouldn’t say I was particularly religious but I do think the values of Christianity are crucial to a happy life. You don’t have to believe in God to want to live an honest and kind life. That’s what I want my little girl to grow up understanding.

So I’m struggling to find ways of ensuring she knows that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get.

After the Christingle service she was given the symbol of Christmas-an orange with a red ribbon, a candle and sweets on cocktail sticks. The sweets represent temptation. As I was driving home I thought ‘Those sweets will not last two minutes in our house’. But I thought I’d give my little girl the responsibility of looking after the orange until Christmas. One sweet went immediately but I’m really proud to say that five days later the rest are all still there and she checks it every day. For a three year old this shows amazing restraint-I’m really proud of her. I hope it teaches a little about being patient and not being greedy.

Being three she has just started ‘I want, I want’ and tonight she asked for a certain book for Christmas to which I replied ‘We don’t ask for what we want-Santa brings us what he thinks you’ll like’

And I know Santa has bought her way too much. and I’m sure that Santa must be relatively poor after all that shopping.

So what is Christmas if not all about the gifts- here are some of my ideas:

  • Spending time together-go to church, go for a walk in a forest collecting holly or fir cones to spray gold, go to a pantomime or just play games together
  • Christmas is about magical stories-read A Night Before Christmas together, read the story of the nativity, read Peppa Pig Christmas stories-whatever takes your fancy.
  • Make your own decorations-baked sliced oranges in the oven, make a fairy from a doily, make felt decorations to hang. There’s loads of ideas on the internet for all ages.
  • Do something kind-donate to charity, visit the animal centre with gifts, visit someone who’s not very well or make someone a handmade present
  • Do all the fun things that make Christmas magical-talc footprints on the carpets, porridge oats left outside for Santa, carrot-milk and cookie left out the night before, the sound of jingle bells outside as the sleigh comes
  • Go for a walk and enjoy the changing seasons. Christmas is a good time to get wrapped up warm and go outside.
  • Get your little ones to help decorate cards and wrap presents.
  • Give unwanted toys to charity shops

Don’t get me wrong-my little girl is totally spoilt-my house isn’t bare of decorations and I’m no bah humbug. I just don’t want to lose some of the more important parts of Christmas.

Do you?

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TOP SANTA STUFF FOR KIDS

There’s a huge amount of fun stuff online to entertain your children -here are a few fab ideas for you to try this Christmas:

  • Get a personalised video message from Santa where he speaks their name, shows a photograph of them and says whether they’ve been a good boy/ girl this year. It’s free if you do it online but the app is £2.49. At the same time you can get a birthday message for Santa too where Mrs Clause kindly bakes your child a virtual birthday cake.
  • Add a free app called Fake Call To Santa– I love this one. On screen it looks like Santa is calling-there is a jingle bells theme tune and you press connect to take the call from Santa. My little girl loved this-we were having a ‘I’m tired and I’m going to rebel against life’ moment so I said “Santa won’t call if you are being a bit naughty”. With that I left the phone outside of the baby gate. Next thing she asked to go and clean her teeth before bed-snatched the mobile phone, ran in the corner of her bedroom and tried dialling Santa. Love it!
  • Don’t pay for a letter from Santa-there are tons of websites out there that give you access to letters you can amend and download to print. Add some porridge oats in a clear bag as reindeer food and you have a lovely little surprise.
  • Go on You Tube and type in Santa songs and get in the Christmas mood-warning! I did this for my little girl tonight and turned up the volume for a Christmas song-out blasted ‘There’s no presents for Christmas because you’ve all been little sh*ts! Ooooops that volume went down quickly

  • Use Pinterest for cool ideas of Christmas goodies to bake and make. You can never run out of inspiration

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  • Track Santa to find out how many days, hours and minutes are left until Santa arrives, check out the North Pole , play games and listen to music on one of the best Santa websites NORAD. Add to your favourites so you can visit this site easily as many times a day as you want.
  • Christmas colouring- keep them entertained on a cold or rainy day with printable activity sheets. I love these join the dot sheets-free and good fun
  • I found a great talking book too online about ‘How The Elves Save The Day’ -great for learning

I’ve loved writing this blog-I hope you’ve loved reading it.

Merry Christmas

Thank you to my work colleague for passing on some top tips

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Weird Science-Fun Stuff for kids

I was no scientist at school- all I can remember is the whole science class quietly humming at the same time so that the teacher didn’t know who was doing it. I think Grange Hill was responsible for that one!

So the great thing about having a child is being able to learn with them all the things that you didn’t learn when you were young. Of course under the pretence that you already know it.

I took my little girl to an event at The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea called ‘Weird Science’ and we picked up a few fun tricks I thought I’d share with you.

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SLIME

Put a few spoons of corn flour in to a plastic cup. Add some food colouring for effect and mix with warm water. Add more water or more flour until the mixture is a paste that still is thick but still moves around like liquid (Hope that make sense)

When mixed tip a blob of the paste on to a plastic tablecloth, place mat or similar.

Now for the amazing part-when you pat the blob it feels hard-not like liquid at all.

If you slowly trace your finger through it, it moves like liquid.

If you scoop it up quickly and roll it around it turns in to a putty like ball.

Scrape it all up and put it back in a cup-liquid form again.

This was a really fun experiment-the reason for these changes is that the paste is neither solid nor liquid. Something about it’s molecular structure. Ok so I’ll now add a scientific reason in case you’re interested:

‘Corn flour and water, when combined, become a non-Newtonian fluid, which has a shear rate that increases independent of velocity. Adding food coloring to this simple physics demonstration tints the corn flour and water mixture, which better expresses its properties visually’ (Source; E-how)

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8287633_mix-corn-flour-water.html#ixzz2jbzUlgB6

GLOW STICKS

Get a glow stick and crack it along its length to make it look neon.

On stand by have a glass of hot water and a glass of cold water.

Put your glow stick in the cold water and you’ll see its neon qualities fade as it reverts back to its original state.

Put your glow stick in to the glass of hot water and you’ll see it begin to turn neon again but even brighter than it was when you first cracked the stick.

Easy bit of science but very interesting.

Just before I started writing my blog I saw a post from Mashable on Twitter which gives some great ideas for science tricks:

14 YouTube Tutorials for Science Experiments

You never know-with my new found knowledge my daughter could one day be a scientist…………………….

Thanks for reading