Reblog: 10 things every nursery-going mum should know

You think your toddler will be the ONLY one doing all the learning once he/ she starts nursery? WRONG! You – nursery-going mum – will have a LOT of learning to do as well. Some lessons will be delightful, others not so much. But there WILL be new experiences so brace yourself. 1.…

via 10 things every nursery-going mum should know… — Tales from Mamaville

With the start of the new school term, lots of parents will be taking their toddlers to nursery for the first time so this week I’m sharing a post by Nicole of Tales from Mamaville. Do check out her blog, it’s one of the many fabulous parent blogs I’ve come across since I got more involved with the blogging community.

I can remember every single one of these happening when Munchkin was at nursery. My favourite quote is, “Your toddler will not like to talk about his/ her day when asked, but will tell you EVERYTHING five minutes before bedtime”. This is so true!

Point 6 talks about all the crappy arts and crafts that your toddler will bring home. I’m still trying to work out what to do with the arts and crafts that are brought home from nursery, school and a variety of clubs. Somewhere in my loft is a suitcase that used to belong to my mum. It contains all of my crappy arts and crafts going back to about age three. Some things never change.

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#ThrowBackThursday Speeding to Fawlty Towers

This week’s Thowback Thursday sees a return to my 2008 New Zealand travel journal. I wish I’d written a bit more detail as I don’t remember anything about the two couples at the bed and breakfast. I remember very little about Waitomo Caves, although I remember the hotel vividly.

aranui cave waitomo, new zealand, stalactites, glow worm caves

Aranui Cave Waitomo

Keri Keri to Waitomo

Thanks to the laptop, this is the second time I’ve written 9th February.  (Perhaps the original version was better!)  We had breakfast in the company of a pleasant Canadian couple (whom we’d seen the previous day at the Treaty Grounds) and a slightly snooty English couple.  Soon after breakfast, we left for Waitomo.  Our first stop was the Treaty Grounds, because we’d left our copies of the treaty behind the previous day.  We stopped for lunch at a sheep centre, somewhere between the Bay of Islands and Auckland.  There was an unscheduled stop on the Auckland motorway when Andy got caught speeding.  Unfortunately for the rest of the world, New Zealand speed limits are unusually low, meaning that the Police make a fortune out of tourists!

We arrived in Waitomo to discover that we were staying in Fawlty Towers!  Although the Waitomo Caves hotel looks great from the outside, and has views of the entrance to the glow worm caves, it is slightly shabby inside.  It looks as if it was last decorated in the 1970s, with peeling floral wall paper.  That night’s dinner was in the back packers next door, which was much better value than the hotel restaurant.  I almost wish we’d stayed in the back packers – at least it was more modern!  We booked onto the evening tour of the glow worm caves.  This was a good move.  The caves are packed during the day and there are certain areas that you can only visit when it’s quiet to prevent carbon dioxide levels from getting too high as this could damage the caves.  Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos in there, so you’ll have to take my word that the rock formations and glow worms (which are viewed from a boat on an underground stream) are spectacular.

Roald Dahl Day

The 13th September is Roald Dahl Day. This post was meant to be a reblog but technology defied me. There was no way WordPress Reader was going to share a Blogger post that was over a year old. Instead, I’d like to thank Debbie for alerting me to its existence. I was going to reblog this post of hers, which talks about how her family celebrated 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth.

Roald Dahl Books

Photo credit: weesen via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I hadn’t realised that Mr Dahl would have been 100 last year or even that there was such a thing as Roald Dahl Day. According to RoaldDahl.com, 13th September was his birthday and people are invited to join in with a range of events around that date.

I have been trying to decide which Roald Dahl book I like the most. Those that are most memorable to me are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny, Champion of the World and The BFG. I also think Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is underrated; I love the idea of a lift that with an Up and Out button and the ability to travel anywhere.

What is your favourite Roald Dahl book? Are you taking part in any Roald Dahl Day events? Please let me know in the comments.


Featured image credit: Christchurch City Libraries via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Writing Update: Submitting and Rejection

I’ve gone a bit off topic this week, with Facebook and bras, so I decided it was time for a writing update. I’ve done quite a lot of blogging over the summer. Although I wouldn’t say I have a blogging schedule, I now post a Tuesday Reblog, a Throwback Thursday – where I re-post something I’ve written in the past, and one or two other posts each week. I’m pleased that I now have over thirty blog followers and almost 200 Twitter followers. It probably doesn’t sound like much to the hard core bloggers out there, but I’m quite pleased as a few weeks ago, I had less than ten blog followers and about 30 Twitter followers.

I’m trying to get the whole week’s blogs scheduled in one go so that I have some time for writing stories. I really need to sit down and write the time travel story that I want to enter in my village’s short story competition. Before I know it, the deadline will have passed and I won’t have done it!

I submitted Sky Man to an agent a few weeks ago. It’s the story of an elderly alien who has settled on Earth but is now returning home. He is like a grandfather to Lily. She and her family must come to terms with his departure. I subsequently noticed that book blogger Read It Daddy had shared some posts about British publishers and agents having no interest in picture books with more than 600 words, including this one from Picture Book Den, so it was no surprise when I got a rejection email. The email offered no opportunities for feedback so I can only assume that the word count was the problem.

I emailed my very helpful creative writing teacher (who blogs as Brainfluff) and she came up with some good suggestions. She pointed out that the comments on the Picture Book Den post include details of publishers who will consider longer picture book texts. So Plan A is to look into submitting to some of these publishers. Plan B involves a rewrite but I’d rather not since I feel the story has the number of words that it needs in order to work properly.

Next week, it’s back to Creative Writing classes for me. That means I’ll have the opportunity to get feedback on my work and the option to do writing exercises. If I can get myself a bit more organised, I might consider dusting the cob webs off the novel that I planned but barely wrote. However, my writing priorities are the short story for the competition and my children’s stories.

If there are other writers reading this, how are things going for you? Have you had a productive summer or taken a break from writing?

 

 

 


Photo credit: Foter.com

#ThrowBackThursday: Storm in a D Cup

This week I’m looking back to my pregnancy blog, and bra buying. What I didn’t write in this post, was a few weeks later, I went to another store and had an equally disasterous fitting. I should have listened to the friend who told me to go to Bravissimo. Little did I know that it’s old hat to add 4+ inches to the band measurement (I always wondered why bras rode up when I put my hands in the air!), as the two shops I visited had clearly done and that the creases at the bottom of the cups were caused by them being too small.

These days, if I need a bra, my first stop is Boob or Bust. This is a website that teaches you how to measure properly. They even have a Facebook group with highly trained admins who will check the fit of members’ bras.

panache bra

I had to take my own bra picture as the library ones gave the wrong message!

In the well known pregnancy manual, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff says that a pregnant woman’s bra size may end up three cup sizes bigger than it was pre pregnancy…she’s not wrong!

My bras were getting too tight and things were wobbling when they didn’t ought to.  I tried measuring myself, but that was about as much use as a chocolate tea pot!  When I checked my measurements on online bra size charts, La Senza and BHS said I was too small to wear a bra, M&S said I was a 34A, an online calculator said I was a 34C and Figleaves’ size guide may as well have been written in a foreign language!

I knew I had to do something, so my not-quite-a-bump-yet and I made our way to the lingerie department of a well known store.  I was told that the bra fitter was currently with someone, and offered a seat while I waited.  Last time I had a bra fitted, it took about five minutes, so I wasn’t expecting her to be long.  After about ten minutes, I saw the bra fitter emerge from a cubicle carrying a white bra with cups large enough to carry a small child!  I texted my husband to say that I was having to wait due to a woman with massive boobs.   Ten minutes later, the well endowed lady’s bra was finally fitted.  The fitter then told me that her shift had finished and someone else would be along to fit my bra.  By this point I was getting thoroughly grumpy.  I’d read the store’s in house magazine twice and nobody had said they were sorry about the wait.

A lady called Holly arrived to fit my bra.  She was very pleasant, and concluded that I was a 34C (and I’d thought the online calculator was nuts!).  Apparently underwired bras aren’t recommended for pregnancy since they can dig in and interfere with the milk ducts (who would have known?), so she brought me a selection of unwired bras to try.  The fit ranged from too loose on the band, to wrinkles at the bottom of the cup, to a strange dimpled effect at the top of the cup.  Poor Holly was despairing (as no doubt was the woman waiting for a bra fitting after me) and went to get her manager for a second opinion.

With some assistance from Holly’s manager Emma, I ended up with a bra with a bit of growth room (I was only 12 weeks pregnant…what if I continued growing for the next 30 weeks?).  They both concluded that I was either a 32D or a 34C depending on the cut of the bra.  A “D cup”?  When I went up from an AA to an A a few years ago, I thought that was as big as I’d ever get.

Reblog: Sharing my favourite childhood books

I loved reading as a child. I always had a book on the go, and I read my favourites over and over again. Harry is 8, and at his age, and younger, I devoured Enid Blyton books in particular. I think my favourite series was the Adventure Series – The Island of Adventure, The Castle…

via Sharing my favourite childhood books with the children — Jennifer’s Little World blog – Parenting, craft and travel

I think this post from Jennifer is one many of us can relate to. I was also an avid reader as a child. I’ve kept many of my childhood books and am gradually passing them on to Munchkin as she becomes old enough for them. One of her favourites is Ming Meets the Farm Kittens by Audrey Tarrant. I believe it’s now out of print, but had charming illustrations, including some that children (first myself, now Munchkin, since I never finished doing it) could colour in. One of the first children’s novels that I read was The Railway Children by E Nesbit and I’m looking forward to becoming reaquainted with the story in a year or two.

Jennifer is an award winning blogger. I started writing for Worthing Mums, thanks to a link that she posted on a Facebook group a few years ago. She’s currently 199 in the Tots 100 parent blog rankings. Just for a laugh, I looked up my ranking. I’m currently 4247!

My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

I spend quite a lot of time on Facebook. It’s an easy way of staying in contact with friends and relatives, and I love looking at other people’s photo’s. Facebook has enabled me to get back in touch with old friends, and meet new ones. I’ve found writing opportunities on there. If I’m looking for a recommendation for a tradesperson, or need some local information that I haven’t been able to get from another source, Facebook will be my first port of call.

Unfortunately, Facebook has a dark side. It is a place where people name and shame with little regard for fact or the law. There’s a lot of moaning – I think it must be home to some of the most negative communities on the internet. Certain groups also seem to have more than their fair share of swearing.

Nowhere is this dark side more evident than one of the Facebook groups for my local community. I won’t name and shame, because that’s not my way, but some people reading this will know exactly which group I’m talking about. This group has a split personality. It’s community focused, and there’s some geuinely useful and interesting stuff on there. There used to be some people who posted about local history, but they’ve gone quiet of late. I wonder if they’ve found somewhere else to share information. The group is public, so if you post anything contentious, it’s there for the whole world to see.

The worst thing about this group is the moaning. My husband thinks it has a hidden agenda to make the outside world think we live in a dump. Therefore there won’t be any newcomers and housing developers will stop building here. It has been used to name and shame alleged criminals. A while back, a nice lady tried to start a petition to get street lights in a particularly dark area that no lone woman would want to walk in after dark, and someone told her to use a torch. The person that I’m finding particularly irritating at the moment is the one that moans every time someone requests a recommendation. Surely this is a key purpose of a community focused group? There’s no substitute for personal recommendation – not every tradesperson is on review sites and it’s questionable whether some reviews are reliable.

I’m trying to decide whether to leave the group or stay there in case I miss out on something useful or interesting. It really irritates me but it can be quite handy. I’ve considered setting up my own group or page but I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle as I’d feel obliged to moderate it much more than the owner of the group that upsets me does. I really like the Sunny Worthing page, which was set up by someone who was sick of negativity on the internet. If I did set something up, it would be around a similar premise to this.

What do you think? Have you come across lots of Facebook negativity? Should I try to set up something positive to counteract it?


Photo credit: Foter.com

 

Sink or Swim…

Munchkin loves being in water but she can barely swim. She doesn’t seem bothered and believes she’s a good swimmer but I’m frustrated on her behalf and a little worried. With any other activity, I’d readily accept that every child is different, but swimming could literally be a matter of life and death.

mother and baby swimming

Munchkin’s baby swimming lessons (Photo Credit: Bubbles Event Photography)

I’ve been taking her to lessons at our local pool since she was a year old – she’s now five. The swim school there has quite a good reputation and used to advertise itself as award winning. I always wondered what the award was for. Perhaps it was a swimming certificate.

Until she was three and a half, I went in the water with her for lessons. She went through a phase of being scared of the pool, but got over it. Since she has been in the unaccompanied classes, she has tended to be one of the better ones in her group, but never the best and never good enough to get moved to a more advanced group.

She can swim about five strokes, then puts her feet down — every time… Her technique is good and she’s not afraid to put her face in the water. She recently asked me why she doesn’t get swimming badges any more. The truth is, I don’t know. If she knew how close to getting a badge she was, it might incentivise her to improve, but the leisure centre have changed their award scheme and badges now seem to be few and far between. I think she might do better if she was out of her depth during lessons, but that doesn’t seem to be an option. Most of her friends who go to lessons elsewhere have their 5 metre badge. At this rate, she might get hers when she’s seven.

child swimming

Munchkin enjoying swimming this summer

So my dilemma is this: Do I accept that she’s a bit slow when it comes to swimming or do I find another swimming class? I’ve had a swim school recommended to me, but it’s too far from home. Also, for every swim school that one parent recommends, another parent says their child is struggling there. My other option would be to pay a visit to my swimming teacher uncle, but it seems a bit cheeky when I haven’t seen him for about four years and I don’t think he’s ever met Munchkin.

What are your experiences of teaching children to swim? Would you stick with the current swim school or try elsewhere? If you’re local to my area, is there a swim school near Worthing or Littlehampton that you’d recommend?

#Throwback Thursday: Holiday in Yorkshire and Lancashire

A version of this post first appeared on my old blog. As it’s holiday season, I’m re-posting a blog about a family holiday. I’m rather surprised I first posted this without any photos, but I can’t even find any from that holiday on Facebook. Settle Play Barn has closed down but I’ve left in that part of the blog post because the girls liked Nana Pat’s crafts so much.

We spent the week in a farm cottage on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  The complex had won an eco-tourism award and I’m unsure whether that enhanced or detracted from our holiday.  Tap water came from a bore hole, and stank of sulphur.  They had to drain the hot water system so Munchkin and her cousin could have a bath without chunks of sediment floating in it.  The decor also seemed a little tired and dusty – maybe that’s more environmentally friendly than regular painting and dusting.  That said, there was an on-site indoor pool that went down really well with the kids.

We’ve visited some lovely kiddy-friendly tourist attractions this week, and had a fabulous meal out for our wedding anniversary:

Tourist Attractions:

  1. Skipton Castle – Munchkin has wanted to visit a castle for a while.  Skipton Castle didn’t disappoint.  There’s just enough information to keep pre school children interested.  The castle is compact enough for toddlers and those with restricted mobility to walk round without getting exhausted.  We left with the obligatory toy sword!  The best thing is, it’s free for under 5s.
  2. Thornton Hall Country Park – This farm park had some extras that we hadn’t experienced before.  The children collected eggs (though Munchkin was disappointed they weren’t chocolate!), fed animals, and went on a barrel ride.  There was a toddler music and yoga group there, which Munchkin enjoyed whilst her cousin staged a walkout.  Munchkin’s favourite things were bottle-feeding the lambs, and milking the pretend cow.
  3. Bowland Wild Boar Park was on a similar theme to Thornton Hall, but some of the animals were more exotic, and the play equipment more varied, albeit outdoor.  Munchkin milked another imitation cow, and cuddled a chick.  She refused to feed the lambs – I think they were more boisterous than the Thornton Hall ones.  This was probably our most expensive trip of the week.
  4. Settle Play Barn – We were a tad put off by the industrial nature of the Play Barn when we first arrived.  This was soon forgotten when Nana Pat arrived!  Pat is a former playgroup leader and runs children’s craft sessions at the Play Barn once a week.  We stayed all morning, and the girls didn’t really bother with the soft play.  Pat got the kids making fathers’ day cards and gifts.  Munchkin and her cousin  made gift after gift.  Pat even stayed late so they could finish an extra item.  They also went outside to watch the steam train that runs past the Play Barn’s back door.  The soft play is OK – we’ve probably been to better, but the activities make up for that. The food is quite tasty too.

Fine Dining
We went to The Box Tree in Ilkley for our anniversary dinner.  The food and the service were superb.  If it wasn’t so far from home, I’d love to go back.

Reblog: Holidays with Kids. Reality vs Expectation – My Family Home

This summer we went to France camping with our 2 rugrats. It will be fun! I said to myself, the kids will play happily in a safe campsite with lots of other French enfants. They will pick up the language so easily by the time we return home they will be fluent. Mr familyhomeblog and […]

via Holidays with kids. Reality versus expectation  — My Family Home

I really like this post from Jules. Please take a look at her blog and let her know what you think. The difference between reality and expectation when it comes to children definitely rings true with me.