Tuesday 30 April 2013

Springtime in Cumbria

We have had a beautiful 36 hours up here and there are some lovely signs that spring is in full flow. Here are some photographs from the last 2 days:

Staveley lambs

Langdales Pikes across Windermere
New leaves

Buds on the trees

Birds searching for nest materials


Monday 29 April 2013

Barefoot Books Celebrating Earth Day 2013

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This year's Earth Day was on April 22nd the lovely people at Barefoot Books sent us 3 books which link in nicely to celebrating our planet and connecting with nature:

Grandpa's GardenGrandpa's Garden by Stella Fry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All year, Billy helps his grandpa in the vegetable garden.

This is the delightful story of Billy and his grandpa in the vegetable garden. It takes you and your child through the seasons as there are different jobs to do depending on the time of year. It starts in winter when all seems dead and finishes with the autumn harvest.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and the story not too complicated. When it ends then there are tips for planting your own vegetable garden and each season has its own list of Grandpa's tips and jobs.

This book is therefore not just a story but also a gardening guide for children. This makes the price of £5.99 a very good one.

A Farmer's Life for Me: With CD (Enhanced)A Farmer's Life for Me: With CD by Jan Dobbins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A simple story about the life of a farmer with each page having a verse and illustrations for one of the tasks the farmer's family have to do. Each ends with the same refrain 1-2-3 a farmer's life for me.

A great idea to introduce younger children to farm life and in the back there are more details about each of the task which you can talk about with your child. My 6.5 year declared that the book was for children younger than him but that he really liked it!

This version also comes with a CD. This includes a group singing the book to appropriate country sounding music. If you are brave the score is included in the book! There is also an interactive animation of the story with the word to sing highlighted as you go.

Nice bright illustrations and a good book to share. I'd say this was best for 4-6 year olds. Again well priced at £6.99.

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales (One World, One Planet)The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales by Dawn Casey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will take a while to finish this with my daughter as it is jam packed with stories from around the world. Each of them give a view point from a different country about the relationships between man and nature or how nature interacts with each other part.

Each story is followed by an activity to do. Some of these are arty such as Australian painting. Or maybe creating a bird feeder or building a willow wigwam. I will have fun trying some of these out over the school holidays.

A good book to share with primary aged children to help them think about the world and how to look after it.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Tonsils out!

Yesterday my daughter was scheduled to have her tonsils out at Furness General Hospital (the downside of living in south Cumbria is that our hospitals are up to a hour away!). She had been repeatedly suffering from tonsillitis which was impacting on both home and school life. It hadn't taken much convincing of the consultant once our GP finally referred her. So at 6:30 yesterday morning she and I set off on the hour long drive out to Barrow in Furness. Its a beautiful drive when your mind isn't elsewhere!

The hospital is on the outskirts of the town and as we were there so early it was easy to get to and also find on road parking. Then we found our way to the front entrance and someone directed us to the right ward - typically right at the other end of the hospital! We were half an hour early but they let us in and showed us the side ward my daughter was assigned to. 

An initial chat with the nurse (including the magic local anaesthetic gel) was followed by the surgeon arriving, he informed us that her notes were still at the Westmorland General in Kendal! This put a delay on her operation as they were waiting for a taxi to bring them over... Meantime a nursing assistant explained more of the operation to my daughter and the anaesthetist came to see her. Then she was allowed to play whilst I had a coffee.

When the time came a nurse led us through a few corridors to the operating theatre. She looked so tiny lying on the trolley as I distracted her from the needle going in. All too soon she was asleep and I was told to distract myself for an hour! I went outside with a paper but it was hard to concentrate and I was soon back in in the ward.

My daughter was a bit upset and disorientated when she came round but I sat and held her hand. She tried to sleep and eat but it was all a bit much. 

In the end they decided to keep her overnight as a precaution. The ward had fold out beds so I could sleep next to her. Just wish I'd thought to bring over night gear for myself!

It wasn't a great night as when we first tried to sleep a teenager down the corridor had too many loud visitors. Then a baby kept crying! I am a light sleeper so the random electronic beeps, phone calls and corridor lights weren't good. I ended up watching kids' films on the bedside TV until I was too tired to stay awake! A nurse checked my daughter at 2 am (my daughter slept through that! Then at 3 the fire alarms went off... I was getting out of bed when a nurse assured me it wasn't in our part of the hospital and to get back to sleep! Hard for us to do when the alarm wouldn't shut up...

This morning I was told that if she ate some toast we could leave as she looked and felt a lot better. I was so relieved when she managed to do this. It was a good feeling to walk back out of the hospital and to our car. We are both a bit tired (despite having a sleep when we got home!) and she is still feeling a bit rough but hopefully a couple of weeks off school and she will soon be back to old bubbly self!

My top tips for accompanying children to hospital:

  1. If you are far from home have an overnight bag in car for both you and the child. Earplugs and eye mask could be useful!
  2. Unlike me take your phone charger..
  3. Have a good book or other distractions for you and the child
  4. Take plenty of snacks for yourself as hospital food is expensive
  5. Have a decent travel hot drink mug (the ones at Furness dripped on me!)
Do you have any other tips?

Thursday 25 April 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful Week 17 #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Michelle is feeling like Pollyana this week and has found reasons to smile even when things are making her feel sad. Here are the reasons I am smiling this week:

1) My big boy

He had his first St George's Day as a Beaver Scout this week:

He looks so grown up and proud of himself! Not such a little boy any more.

2) 3 years of blipping

I celebrated 3 years on the blipfoto photo sharing web site this week.

It's been such fun on their and this week got into the Spotlight for my anniversary blip.

3) My girl

After last week's Gollum my daughter did her own interpretation of the weeping angels from Dr Who:

She has such a great imagination!

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Tuesday Review: Living World Snail World #CountryKids

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Its a well known fact that whilst children love creepy crawlies most mums don't want them in their house. So my children were very excited to receive a snail world to review. Unfortunately the snails were all still hibernating but they did have fun looking for live ones. 

This Saturday my children came rushing back into the house as they had found some live snails crawling across the garden:

We had to hunt out the snail house and I had to google the instructions as I'd misplaced them. My daughter washed out the container and then they hunted around the garden for the moss and grass that were required:

Bob and Gerald were soon installed in their new home and they appeared happy enough in there:

The snail house gives a really good view of the snails from all sides:

Having checked out the snails' dietary requirements my daughter sliced up some cucumber and popped it into the house:

The children found it really funny that the snails pooped on their food and on the roof of the snail house:

As you can see we have also put in some egg shells as apparently the snails need the calcium for their shells! So far we have all been intrigued by our new house guests and the children have learnt fascinating facts such as snails being hermaphrodites. They are therefore hoping that Bob(alina) and Gerald(ina) have babies!

We have had one close call when my daughter left the lid off but as yet I am quite happy to have them in the house. They are in a spot out of the direct sunlight but hopefully just right for snails.

At an RRP of £9.99 this is a good set for any budding naturalists in your family and they also have other sets in the Living World Series.

Monday 22 April 2013

Monday Book Review: Jack's Amazing Shadow by Tom Percival

Jack's Amazing Shadow

Jack's Amazing Shadow by Tom Percival
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was sent this book to review with my children. The story is about Jack and his shadow that isn't like any ordinary shadow. In fact Jack and his shadow are best friends. But one day the shadow does something really naughty and gets Jack into trouble.

Jack tells the shadow to go away and leave him alone. At first Jack is happy but then he begins to realise what he is missing and wishes he has his shadow back....

My 6 year old was gripped by the story as I read it to him. The illustrations compliment the story very well and there is just enough on each page. A lovely story to share as in the end Jack and his shadow say sorry to each other and are friends again.

View all my reviews

Saturday 20 April 2013

#CountryKids tree climbing woes!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Now I have no problem with my children climbing trees I just ask them to be sensible about it! My daughter has a habit of getting stuck by going too high so I encourage her not to go more than twice her body height up. At her age I was left suspended from a tree when a nail from an old tree house went through my clothing! It means that I am not confident about climbing up trees myself. 

This Tuesday we had another picnic tea in the park before Beavers and there is a huge pine tree in the corner which the children love to climb. It wasn't long after tea that my son came to tell me his sister was stuck! I went to see what the problem was and this was how I found her:

As you can see she had gone well above the height limit and she couldn't work out how to get down. It was way too far to jump down and there was no way I could get up there! Luckily the local football team was about to play a match and I had to ask a man in the crowd to come and rescue her:

He actually found it hard to get up there himself but he did manage to get her down. I am sure for a few weeks she won't go too high but it won't be long until she gets stuck again!

Friday 19 April 2013

Fitness Fanatics Fridays Week 1

I have decided to join in with A Summer Full of Peaches Fitness Fanatics Fridays linky to help inspire me to keep up the fitness training! Now I have never in my life been described as fitness fanatic - at uni I 'd play rugby then sink 6 pints in the pub afterwards... but things can change and so can I!

My training for my charity run has been changing me a bit as I am finding how much I enjoy running! Having not been able to run for more than a very short distance I am now running for up to 35 minute without stopping or 2 lots of 20 minutes with a short break in between. If you want to see how I am doing then I am on MapMyRun.

To give me the impetus to keep this up I got my daughter to photograph me in my running kit this morning. I deliberately didn't breathe in:

So after 2 months of running I have got into the next size down running top but its a long way to go! So how am I planning on keeping it up and getting those wobbly bits off?

I have been asked to use the Thinking Slimmer slimpods to use my sub conscious to get the weight off. I never stick to diets for long and I've lost the same 1/2 stone several times in the last 18 months. The slimpods are designed to retrain the brain to finally lose the weight for good! There is also a fit pod to help me keep motivated and a chill pod to unwind with. I have set my goals:

On Sunday I have a whole day boot camp which should help give a real kick start to the fitness regime. Watch this space..

Thursday 18 April 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful: Week 16 end of the holidays #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
My life may not be as exciting as Michelle's at the minute but I have lots of reasons to be cheerful this week! Here are the things that are making me smile:

1) Last of the Easter fun

Boy did we pack in the fun this Easter! We rounded off our holidays with a couple more fabulous family days out. The first was the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss:

And then on Sunday we went to a bloggers' day at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester.  Not only did we have fun but I enjoyed meeting bloggers I had met before or who I had only talked to online. Interesting being described as the blogger with the lovely view from her kitchen window!

2) Praise for my children

I had some lovely things said about my children this week. Some from bloggers such as Chaos and Calm who enjoyed my children at Legoland. Also from other people telling me what polite and well brought up children I have! I will have to remember that when they are driving me mental! Also check over on my daughter's blog for her amazing Gollum impressions.

3) Diet and Fitness

After the previous 2 bad weeks there was a loss on the scales this week! I will be writing more about my plans for doing better when I join in with Fitness Fanatics Fridays from tomorrow. Having lots of support on and off line is oh so helpful. Going out for a total of 40 minutes running on Tuesday really put me in a great frame of mind too. Come back tomorrow if you want to know more..

4) Operation House

An impending visit by a surveyor for the landlady forced me into ramping up the house sorting this weekend. This wasn't a happy experience in itself as I'd rather have been doing something fun with the kids but it has left me smiling in the end! The previous moving of furniture from my bedroom to the living room had left my room in even more chaos than normal. Now I can access my bed from both sides again and the room seems twice the size. The landing is also cleared of all the boxes of stuff looking for a home - I did stash these on the bottom bunk so I know what I'm doing this weekend! The front room is a lot clearer too. I did have empty space all the way across the room at one point this week:

5) Spring?

We briefly got teased into thinking it was properly Spring on Monday and Tuesday again! The blossoms were out and we got to spend 2 evenings having picnic teas outside:

Wednesday 17 April 2013

#TheGallery Youth


Not joined in for a while so time to have a go! This is me back in 1993 at my graduation from Swansea University having just scraped a 2.1 in Geography:


I look so pleased with myself! Three years of hard work had paid off and I was going to be starting an MA at Leeds University in Human Geography in the autumn. University was a great experience with not only studying geography, geology and Italian in my first year but taking up rugby too! Not sure I have really used my degrees since then as I fell into working in IT but a fascinating subject to study. The fact I got field trips to Portsmouth & Tunisia and a term in Paris were definite bonuses.


Who knows if my children will follow in my footsteps. I was lucky to go before tuition fees went through the roof. Such a shame if future generations are priced out of university. This was my amazing 21st birthday cake which celebrated my love of rugby and the university:


Tuesday 16 April 2013

Blogs Up North at Legoland Discovery Centre and Cadwaladers

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We were lucky last Sunday to be invited to join 14 other blogging families for a Blogs Up North trip to the Legoland Discovery Centre in the Trafford Centre, Manchester. We were given free entry into the centre which I have visited before when we won a trip.

This time it was a lot less crowded and the only longish queue was for the first ride:

After shooting trolls with lasers we went into the Miniland to see the famous landmarks:

There were also some Lakes landmarks which we recognised too:

Next stop was the 4D cinema. We were able to sit on the front row for the original lego movie and got a little bit wet. Then we queued up for the new Chimera movie and got even wetter! Amazing 3D effects though the noise of the fan was louder than some parts of the soundtrack.

We then had a bite to eat in the cafe. I was rather disappointed with the range of food for children. There were loads of chicken mayo and few cheese sandwiches but no ham. My son ended up with cake and crisps for lunch! My grown up panini was pretty tasty though.

My son had a play in the soft play whilst I chatted to the other bloggers. Then my daughter went to watch the 4D with some other families whilst my son had a go driving a police car to catch the robbers:

I wanted to go on the Merlin's Apprentice ride. Whilst waiting my son had a chance to get up close to some of his favourite movie characters:

Then it was time to check out the next ride:

Finally the part my son had been waiting for Star Wars Miniland which is on until June:

There were 3 scenes created all of which had some form of interactivity though the clone wars missiles weren't shooting properly.

We had one last fun photo opportunity before we left. These are my 2 with their new blog buddies:

I think at 9.5 my daughter is about at the limit for the discovery centre as the rides are more aimed at younger children. We did all have a lovely few hours in there and we will probably return again.

The last treat of the day was a trip to Cadwaladers ice cream cafe next door. They had kindly allowed us to sample their ice creams and coffees. It was hard to choose from all their flavours:

My children chose chocolate and mint Choc chip:

The meanies wouldn't let me taste it but it must have been delicious judging by the way they were demolished:

The coffee was a pretty good one too. I would definitely go back there as a paying customer.