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Party To Plan Four

It’s that time again-my little girl is soon turning four years old.

I decided I wouldn’t do a party every year but this year I think it’s the first year she truly understands what a birthday is and what happens. So I’m doing a birthday tea instead.

It will be a small gathering-the main reason is I’d like her to have friends over so they can all play with her new presents which are hidden in my garage-two huge pirate ships, a ship wreck and a little rowing boat-all with figures, swords, treasure etc. I cannot wait to get them out and take charge of the playing.

The present got me thinking I could do a little pirate theme tea party-so like last year I thought I’d share my ideas with you.

The aim of this party is to have as much fun in the preparation as the party.

So we made a start today-eight weeks before the big day (Rainy day fun)

GOLD DABLOONS Made from shiny gold card, cut out and decorated with permanent black pen. Draw round a Playdoh pot to get the shape)

PIRATE FLAGS Made from black card, skulls made from white paper folded in half and half the image drawn on. You can cut out 6 or more skulls at one time. Decorate with black pen and fasten to wooden BBQ skewers.

TELESCOPE Made from a long wrapping paper tube, a kitchen roll and a toilet roll. All stuck together with glue and decorated with tin foil and paper. Fastened with sellotape.

INVITATIONS Will be made soon from brown paper, our house will be x marks the spot and a map drawn on. once decorated the paper will be scrunched to give an old effect and burnt on the edges by me.

GIANT PIRATE SHIP It is my intention to create a huge pirate ship from cardboard boxes for the children to sit and play in. I’ll use string for the sails, lids for the port holes and old sheets for the sails. It won’t matter if it’s broken as long as it creates some fun.

HUNTING FOR TREASURE If I get the time I want to get some sand so the kids can go raking around for some treasure. Just sand in a bucket with things hidden inside.

PIRATE GAMES My daughter has a pirate fuzzy felt, pirate books, a pirate DVD and some dressing up items. All which will be put out to play with.

PIRATE PINATA The hunt is on for a pirate piñata to top off the party

FOOD I haven’t even thought about food yet but i’ll probably make some cup cakes, skull sandwiches, pizza swords and a box of treasure hula hoops.

I love all the fun of making and also enjoy planning a party on a budget. Its so much more fun and I think more thoughtful. Watching my little girl and my husband bickering over who had the tin foil today made me realise it’s less about the money you spend and more about time you spend together sorting everything out.

We have just one hurdle to overcome-how on earth does she choose just 4 or 5 friends out of her 34 class mates?

I’ll try and share more as we get closer to the day.

 

 

 

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Outdoor Days

Make the most of the nice weather because we all know winter days drive us crazy.
I love just getting in my car and discovering new places. If you’re lucky enough like me to live in South Wales then here are a few of my favourite places to go for a nice walk:

Penllergaer Forest
Right on my doorstep Penllergaer Forest is full of surprises. Originally the home of John Dillwyn, the forest was the grounds of a huge manor house. The gardens were landscaped to have lots of different features. In recent receipt of a grant there is work going on now to restore the gardens but you can still see so many beautiful sights. Walk across the top path and look down on the lake or walk on the lower path across the recently restored Llewellyn Bridge. See caterpillars, birds and beautiful water features. You can walk all around and end up in a lovely cafe. Nothing nicer than ending a nice walk with a coffee in the open air. Water for dogs available.

Forest Map

Cadle Mill

Part of Penllergaer Forest, the area of the forest in Cadle is a hidden gem. Lots of different paths to take which lead to a small waterfall and to the most beautiful lake I’ve seen. The paths are flat so ideal for little ones and it’s just quiet and beautiful.

Loughor Estuary

Another hidden gem just hidden behind the Reverend James Public House in Loughor is the beautiful Loughor Estuary. You can eat a picnic on the surrounding parkland or walk along near the water collecting sea shells. It’s such a peaceful spot where you can really appreciate nature.

Lliw Reservoir

When you drive in to Lliw Reservoir you are immediately struck by its tranquility. Great expanses of water covering two different reservoirs are bordered with different paths- some suitable for wheelchairs, prams and those who like a flat walk. Across the reservoir are more difficult walks which are ideal for rambling. There are hidden benches where you can enjoy a picnic, an old flour mill and a lovely cafe. It’s a favourite place of mine to walk.

Cwmdonkin Park

A favourite haunt of Dylan Thomas, Cwmdonkin Park is a great expanse of green with many hidden treasures- a giant slide, a pavilion cafe, sculptures, a play park and peace and tranquility. Simple but you’ll stay for hours

Margam Park

For about £20 you can visit Margam Park as many times in a year as you like (Excludes Bank Holidays). You could not find better value. Margam Park is a magical place where you discover something new every time you visit. There is a land train, a farm, wooden sculptures, a cafe, a shop, a castle, a lake, a play park, a discovery centre, a fairy tale village, abbey ruins, a church, a greenhouse, an orangery and probably more than I’ve mentioned. It’s an amazingly beautiful place that changes with the seasons.

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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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The Memory Maker

Their first drawing, their first painting, their first tracing-so hard to throw them all away. I keep scrap books stuffed with these items and in one book I cut the pictures out and use them like a picture alphabet book so they can be looked at for learning and not just stuffed behind the sofa.

This got me wondering if there are any other ideas for keeping our memories alive.

PINTEREST.

Take a photo of your child’s artwork and collect the photographs on Pinterest for them to see when they’re older. No need to keep heaps of paper


KEEPY

An app that lets you capture works of art, special times and messages all in one place by their age. Bring the memories to life

 MAKE A MEMORY BOX

Nothing better than looking through objects that have an important meaning no matter how small. I have shells, jewellery, cards, photos and baby clothes in a special box. Even my little girls umbilical chord is in a bag (Not my idea-it’s gross)


SCRAPBOOKS

Here are my scrap books-I love them

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You can buy some lovely items too-silver fingerprint jewellery. First tooth silver boxes and photo albums.

 

I think it will be lovely for my daughter to see how she grew, what she did and where she went. These are the times that will help her develop and learn.

These are the memories I have too of being a mum.

Have a lovely weekend.

 

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Too Much Of Everything

I don’t think I used to be a hoarder and I don’t really think I am now but I can’t explain how every corner is full of stuff!

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Stuff in the cupboards, stuff in every drawer, stuff under tables and stuff over-taking every room.

I keep quite a tidy home on the exterior but look in an cupboard and you’ll find them brimming with stuff.

Obviously the fact that one of me became three has added to the situation but it’s one lovely little girl that has really changed things.

Like most Mums I want her have the best I can afford but as she approaches four years old I am of the opinion that I may have gone a little over the top in my generosity. I haven’t substituted material things for time either-we spend lots of time together and we enjoy good old fashioned fun.

These are the ‘stuff’ lists I need to do something about-I wonder if you are reading this and thinking the same:

BOOKS

I am a complete sucker for books and must buy a book or two at least every few weeks. We read together almost every night so I like books we can both enjoy. Trouble is that there are so many books we can’t see them all. I need to find a really good storage solution-oh and stop buying more books.

TEDDIES

They are breeding in my house-every night I go in to my little girls room and she has gone to sleep with five or so different ones. Why do teddies have to be so huge these days too? They are under the bed, in baskets, in her bed, in my car, in the conservatory, on the table. Everywhere. Biggest trouble is now Mum is mean because I will not buy anymore soft toys-poor Ty Beanie Bert and Ernie were dumped in the toy shop today. I had to put my foot down.

CRAFT STUFF

I love making things and keep lots of bits n bobs for craft making. I can see a project with everything so always cut up old cards, keep bits of card and am always bring home the free pencils you get at restaurants. Its all stuffed in a craft chest-we love rooting about in it but is has made me a bit of ‘collector’

CLOTHES

Um of course like any other woman I don’t have enough clothes and I never have the right outfit for an occasion but I am slightly embarrassed to admit I have two double wardrobes full of clothes split In to three sections-work, casual and going out. And I have similar for my daughter-two rails of clothes and a whole storage system full of tops and skirts. I know it’s too much and I need to get rid of items. I just hate throwing away things when there’s nothing wrong with them.

Today I’ve made a pact to myself to start de-cluttering.

It’s stressful having so much stuff around the house.

I really find it hard not to buy my little girl nice things but I must stop doing it or she wont value things.

Where do I start though? One room at a time? With the books, teddies and clothes? With a bonfire?

Stick with me-I can do this. Can you?

Just seen a lovely new dress though 🙂

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Fun With Nature

I absolutely love being a country bumpkin-digging about in my garden, exploring nature and being outdoors. With the emergence of the sun this weekend I couldn’t be happier and think it’s an ideal season to teach my little girl about nature with fun things to do. Here are a few ideas:

LEAF RUBBINGS
Couldn’t be easier-find a nice textured leaf and cover it with a piece of paper. Gently rub over the paper with crayons of different colours and the leaf will appear on the paper.

NATURE TRAIL
Write or draw of list of things you want your little one to find on a walk. Give them a bucket to put everything and a treat for collecting them all. You could print pictures out from your computer or cut out from magazines.

FUN WITH WATER
Two washing up bowls filled with soapy water and a selection of bowls, spoons, sieves, whisks and plastic milk bottles cup up to make scoops will keep them entertained for ages. Set up in the garden so it doesn’t matter if the splish too much

BUILD A DEN
Two garden chairs and an old blanket or duvet cover and you’ve got the start of a great den. Bring out teddy, some books and some cushions and they will enjoy their secret hiding place for ages. Be warned though- I sat in my daughters empty padding pool today- she got in and we covered our heads with a blanket. I felt slightly silly as my neighbour looked in. Oh well if you can’t beat them join them!

BUG WATCH
An old jam jar with a few leaves inside makes a great bug catcher. This weekend in my garden we have seen a centipede-great fun looking at all it’s legs, we’ve seen a woodlouse, a beetle, ants, slugs and snails. Thye might be common insects to us grown ups but it’s important to remember these creatures will be fascinating to children.

BEACHCOMBING
Last weekend we went to the beach and brought lots of goodies back for our garden. We filled a hessian bag with old fishing net, shells, driftwood and my little girl found two toys tractor wheels. She loved digging and collecting. Being outdoors is so lovely for children especially after the long winter we’ve had.

SEA GLASS MOBILE
I saw a great idea for a mobile. Collect old pieces of glass that have washed up on beaches. Sand is used to sandblast glass to give it a frosty look-this happens naturally on a beach. Collect lots of odd coloured pieces of glass and tie string around them-hang several on string and hang from driftwood. I can’t wait to try this although I don’t know how easy it will be to find the sea glass.

NUTURE
Get your children to nurture their own plant-watering it every day and seeing it grow. My garden is very exposed to the sun so I’ve opted for hardy plants and alpines. They still look nice though and my daughter loves watering them. She has her own watering can and little garden tools.

SAUCER GARDEN
Get a small plate and cover with earth or sand. Your little one can build their own mini garden on it- little stones for a path, branches for trees, small flowers, lid with water in for a pond-add some plastic animals to make it complete. When I was small we used to have great fun with these-entering them in to the village flower show.

There are so many ideas-I loved growing up in the countryside. I would rather be outdoors watching my daughter picking the heads of my pretty pink petunias and flicking the soil out of my rockery than be stuck in front of the TV.

As the theme tune goes ‘Switch off the TV set and go out and do something less boring instead!’

(Sorry for the lack of images-having trouble uploading them tonight)

Have a great week-let’s hope for more sun next weekend.

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21 Top Bedtime Stalling Tactics

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How many of these stalling tactics do you witness when putting your little one to bed?

  1. Mum I need a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
  2. Owwwww one more story pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
  3. But I need a cuddle
  4. Where’s (insert name of tiniest most hidden toys here)?
  5. But it’s not dark
  6. I’m scared of the dark
  7. A monster is looking at me
  8. My teddy is keeping me awake
  9. I want to come in to your bed
  10. I’m cold
  11. I’m too hot
  12. I want the light on
  13. Can you sit with me?
  14. I need a drink
  15. I need medicine
  16. Look at me jumping Mum
  17. I need a poop
  18. Where are you going now Mum?
  19. Is it night time?
  20. Can you tell me a story?
  21. I want to sit up

Funny thing is you can tick most of these off the list in one night.

I’d love to hear your stories.

Clever little people

Have a good week