Confessions of a summer parent

Every parents knows the sound of the ‘I’m bored mum’ moan from a child who has simply run out of things to do a couple of days into the summer holiday. I had to have a chuckle when I saw the BritMums competition for parenting tips over the summer. If you want to enter too, hurry as it ends really soon. Details can be found here.

Now, I’m a seasoned parent, I have four busy children, who I try to keep active and who love the Summer outdoors weather, but mine still get bored. In the past few years I have found a novel way of keeping them busy, just as we get them to write a list for Christmas I do the same thing with the Summer – a ‘what I’d like to do over the Summer’ list. I suggest a couple of paid for things and other things that are free. Below are a few of the things we did last Summer.

Learn a new sport – Free

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Both my girls dance in a majorette troupe and my youngest wanted to learn the mace which is done by the girl in the front of the troupe. Usually it’s done by much older girls but with the help of her sister she managed it.

 

 

 

 

Check local shops for activities days – Free

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Last year our local pet store ran activity days for children, they were totally free and helped the children understand what it takes to care for an animal and what to feed it. Not everything costs money and these days were superb, I am always surprised that more people don’t do the free things!

 

Find a local splash park – Free

IMG_9394These are popping up all over and are just perfect for a hot and sunny day. Pack the sun cream, a towel and your cossie, and just have fun. Again – they are usually free and if you take a picnic you can stretch it to the best part of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry picking – Inexpensive

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My children love strawberry picking – this year they want to see if there is anywhere where we can pick raspberries. I love this activity, and if you are feeling adventurous you can try your hand at jam making!

 

 

 

 

 

So, what’s on the list this year…

All the children have written lists again and here is Eleanor (aged 8) list. Here is the list in case you can’t work out her spellings!

  • Legoland
  • Strawberry picking
  • Bounce – trampoline park
  • Make a music video
  • Bingo
  • Go shopping with her sister (could be expensive!)
  • Caterpillars
  • Local library book challenge

For expensive things I always use my supermarket vouchers or look for offers online. As a consequence I rarely pay full price for anything!

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Best of all enjoy your Summer and make some great memories, after all they are not young for long.

This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor

Banishing those bathroom blues

I have just found the most amazing competition to enter from Tile Mountain. The prize is amazing – £1750 worth of vouchers.

1st Prize – £1,000 Worth Of Vouchers!
2nd Prize – £500 Worth Of Vouchers!
3rd Prize – £250 Worth Of Vouchers!

IMG_0359Now, my hubby only just revamped our smaller bathroom the children use; he has done a lovely job, we have a tubby tub (roll top bath) and it is beautiful, he has even added LED lighting that changes colour. Our main bathroom is en-suite and was done a few years ago; it is all mirrors and black. Unusual for a bathroom, so our plumbers said anyway!

Anyway, so in summary I’m happy with our bathrooms so when I saw this competition I desperately wanted to enter and help one of my best friends. We met at my first proper job about 20 years ago and have been firm friends since, we have children a similar age, and I actually introduced her (on a blind date) to the father of her children (I’m not sure she thanks me for all of that, but two lovely children were born from it!) There is no sob story or that silly teak-jerking music they play when they start a sob story on x-factor! It is simply a case of being a busy working mum of two, who struggles to get everything done. Her name is Barb and she has two lovely children called Lauren (16) and Fred (11); the bathroom was done about 15 years ago but like most things has suffered with the march of time (don’t I know that well too!)

Below are some photos from my friends bathroom, her comment to me was she was shocked at how shabby it looked on the photos, I think that you tend not to notice when you live with something but it is in a very sorry state. So I wrote this rhyme about it…

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My friends bathroom is in a sorry state;
it’s in desperate need of being up to date
The grout is black and full of mold;
the windows leaky and lets in the cold
It’s a desperate dash when you need the loo;
you don’t even stay long when u need a number 2!
The taps are old and are always dripping;
the walls are damp and they need stripping
You don’t go in there unless you are desperate;
we really need the help of a bathroom expert
So please dream bathroom hear our plea;
Turn a nightmare to a daydream and make it a lush place to be!

Now, I’m pretty rubbish at putting things together, but both my friend and I really like Victorian styled tiles; in fact when I rang and told her about the competition the thing she talked about were the old fashioned brick bevelled tiles. She also currently collects blue and white porcelain so I was made up when I found some nice blue and white retro tiles on the TileMountain site that could be combined with the brick tiles in some fashion, or used as a separate idea. Anyway, there is a great choice on the site so I am sure we would be able to make a choice depending on the suite chosen.

So I have put together the pinterest mood board based around this idea of a slightly retro bathroom suite and tiles to match.  – here is our jointly chosen Pinterest board

Follow anna’s board Banish those bathroom blues inspiration on Pinterest.

We have also included a few fun hacks as well for making the bathroom more individual, and a great place to be.

This is my entry to win on behalf of my friend for Tile Mountain bloggers competition.

A perfect Easter garden party

This is a great bloggers competition – Debenhams are offering two lucky bloggers the chance to win £250 each. To win, all you you need to do is work with your little ones on a blog post to tell us what their must-haves are for their perfect Easter garden party, using the huge range we have available at Debenhams. The competition link is here if you want to enter, but hurry it closes on 13th March 2016.

My children love Easter, its a combination of chocolate, and time off school so we are currently in the pre-Easter egg-citement at the moment in the house. Photo is of my younger three children jumping for joy at the end of term. I’m guessing Easter will get a similar reaction!

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When I mentioned this competition it made them realise quite how close Easter actually is. I got them looking at the range of outdoor garden toys and it actually got them out in the garden playing with things they hadn’t thought about since the end of the Autumn time. From the website they chose

The perfect Easter party

Ah! we love parties, and especially Easter parties!  Hopefully the weather will be reasonable by Easter so we wouldn’t need to hold it all indoors and more importantly so the house doesn’t get too trashed! So what would we need…

  •  Invitations (of course!) and some friends!
  • Plastic Eggs to fill with sweets
  • Bags or boxes collect the eggs in
  • Pens, and stickers for decorating the bags
  • Sweets to put in the eggs
  • Prizes
  • Invitations
  • Some helping hands to decorate the garden and do some suitable food

However, with all good parties there are other things to do in the garden, this is where Debenhams comes in as they have a superb range of outdoor garden toys to choose from. My son’s number one choice was this, a trampoline.

1. Plum – 14ft Whirlwind Trampoline and 3G Enclosure

My children enjoy our trampoline almost the whole year, I have in fact seen them on it in the snow! They adore it and I have to say it is the item that has had the most use of all of our play equipment. My younger son is superb on it and I have signed him up for lessons now. When we have parties we always do craft activities and while some are doing that others are on the trampoline or climbing frame. I usually put flags around it or bunting to make it look more festive. Photo left is of my son loving it.missymoo_2012-05-25 (1) (Large)

 

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2. DC Comics Batman vs Superman Space Hopper

These are a firm favourite, I would do a space hopper race, buy a couple of get some of the children to bring theirs. A lot of my children’s friends also have them. Organise a race and log the best times the children arrive at!

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3. Intex 8′ Easy Set Pool

This is another firm favourite with the children, obviously Easter might be a bit chilly but it could be set up and used for fish a duck which is a great game, again this could be a timed fun activity.

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3. Re:Creation Fuze Bike Bubbler

No party is complete without bubbles, kids just love them, especially against a bright blue sky.

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4. Mookie Hula hoop

Again a great activity, they can be used conventionally or for other games such as throwing or jumping in. 171060696299

 

5. Swingball Classic

As a family we just love this game, it lives on and on and I remember many happy-a-day playing it with my parents on holiday. Our children beg for it to be set up in the summer, but why not get it out early!

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A moodboard of ideas for the perfect Easter party – via pinterest
Follow anna’s board A perfect Easter party with Debenhams on Pinterest.
No party is complete without a cake!

We had a go at making this cake we found on pinterest, my girls loved having a go and it tasted as delicious as it looked. Then we tried brownies with crème eggs, this was equally as successful!

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2886417This is my entry for the Debenhams Easter bloggers competition.

My pet tails

I’ve always loved animals so when I saw that Eurotunnel were asking bloggers to blog about their pet stories I felt I had to have a go. If you want to try too all you have to do is publish a blog entry before the 25th January about your favourite pet story using social media and #petlovers.

We have had cats for as long as I remember, when I was young we had tabby cats called Tiddles and Hannah. One funny story relates to when we took him to the vets, in those days the vaccines were expensive and generally weren’t as available as they are now-a-days, so many cats caught things and they sometimes got poorly. Well, this time Tiddles was ill, he was sweating loads and lethargic. My dad took him to the vet along with me, when we took him into the room the vet insisted on calling him by his name which my dad winced at every time he said it. The more embarrassing thing was that when he called it I butted in with his middle name which was POM-POM (forgive me I was only 7 when I named him). The vet raised an eyebrow and insisted my dad repeat the name. I have never seen him more embarrassed. It was very funny and once Tiddles Pom-Pom had a few doses of medicine he was back to his normal self.

Photo of me aged about 8 with my dad and one of my cats.

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We had the cats until I was about 18, my parents refused to get any more as we lived by a main road and neighbours were always loosing their cats to the road. So when I got married we decided we would like cats, my husband’s family had always had cats too so it was decided we would get a couple of kittens as soon as we got a house. We found a lovely house in a quiet cul-de-sac, it had a woods next to it and was ideal for having cats. So we made enquiries and got a kitten, we then added a second kitten, but made the mistake of getting a boy and a girl (unrelated) kitten. Of course the inevitable happened and they produced three tiny but perfect beautiful kittens. We found a good home for one of them and we received Christmas cards from the family who homed him for over 15 years showing what he had got up to that year. We kept all 5 cats – they all lived a good life and our eldest lived up to 18 years old.

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This shows dad and his babies, he was such a softie he even helped wash them when mum was too tired.

Again, these cats lived a very long and happy life despite being very naughty. I remember once having my cousin over, he was helping out and earning a bit of money in the summer holidays doing some gardening for us. I had cooked him a lovely sausage and mash dinner as a reward for his hard work, as he went to get cutlery the cat pushed the sausages off his plate and ate them in front of him. I think given the look my cousin gave him he possible lost one of his 9 lives!

Our children had loved having the cats but as they got older the cats really just wanted a quite corner to curl up in. We had a lovely ginger tom just down the road so my daughter had always said she would love a big fat ginger cat, I tried to explain that not all cats are friendly but she wouldn’t have it. I went in search and after talking to a dog groomer cousin of mine she said she knew a lady who was looking to re-home her two Maine Coon cats and one was a big ginger tom. I Googled the breed as I hadn’t heard of it before and I fell in love. I made contact with her and within a week we had collected them. They were beauties, the funniest thing being that as we let them out they tried to stack on top of each other, they hid under my desk to begin with, once stacked on top of the other in such a bizarre way. As a few days went by the got more and more adventurous, we were soon in love with them. Their odd quirks include going bonkers over running water, cat stacking in scary situations, following you everywhere, trying to get on the toilet faster than someone trying to use it, loving hot chocolates and yorkshire pudding mixture!

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Nelson and Simba showing off how beautiful they are

Sadly we lost Simba (cream) just before Christmas, we were all devastated, but Nelson (ginger) is doing well and we had decided to continue our cat tails as we are adding Jasper below to our family in February. We are hoping he gives us some fabulous #petlovers tails to tell.

Below my daughter Eleanor holding Jasper who we get in February 

IMG_9853a (Large)This is my entry for Eurotunnels #petlovers pet writing competition sponsored by Eurotunnel and Arden Grange

Food Glorious Food!

Glorious make lovely soup, it is healthy and mouth-wateringly tasty. The range of soups are inspired by recipes from around the world – they transport the eater to far away places with their exotic flavours and colours. When I saw that Foodies100 were running a bloggers competition #GloriousAdventures to blog about their soups and your favourite travel destinations I just had to have a go. I just adore soup, and for someone that is always trying to stay healthy and fit it is a nice easy nutritious option that is low calorie. The prize is amazing – a chance to win an amazing food adventure to Mumbai.

 Our Italian adventure

I have been to Italy quite a few times, it is a beautiful place and it is known for its fresh food and above all delicious pizza and pasta. We recently travelled to Rome with the whole family and spent quite a bit of time tasting the delights of Italian food. We all loved the fresh fruit, its quality is amazing. The fresh pasta and pizza dough is incredible too -we couldn’t get enough of it and talking like this makes my mouth water for the tastes and smells of Italy. It is a truly beautiful country which is very child friendly, we are so lucky to live so near to such a beautiful place.

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On our trip we visited food markets and watched our pizzas being hand made. I think they were used to getting people watching as the restaurant had a massive glass window, and the cooks would smile and laugh as the children watched them kneed the dough and add the toppings.

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 It’s a handy meal and my children love it too!

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My children often snack after school and as soon as they saw this in the fridge it was gone, so much for my healthy lunch (next time I will buy more!) Details of all of the soups available can be found on the Glorious Soups Website.

This blog post is an entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge”.

Santa loves Cravendale too!

In our house milk is loved; and I mean big time, so when I saw that Britmums were running a bloggers competition to write your personal Cravendale story I felt we just had to take part, if you want to take part too, all you need to do is write about how your family enjoy Cravendale and tag it with #MilkDrinkersMilk.- but be quick as the competition closes on the 9th November 2015.

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Now milk has changed a bit since I was my children’s age (ahem back in the late 70’s). I remember the tiny bottles of milk which were delivered into the classroom at school and the lovely freshness that you got from drinking it. I also remember the doorstep deliveries by our local milkman which the birds always seems to beat us to in the morning! Then in my teens I remember an advertising campaign to get people to drink more milk called ‘Got milk’ where celebrities wore milk moustaches with pride. Eleanor obliged for one of these photos without too much persuasion.

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My youngest daughter Eleanor adores milk; in fact every time we go out, she chooses milk above fizzy drinks. So with the vouchers you sent to us we got one of each type of milk, a blue, green and red. Red (skimmed is my son William’s favourite), Green (semi) is my favourite and Blue (full) is Eleanor’s favourite. We end up with all of them in our fridge at the start of the week.

Milk in our house is enjoyed any-time, before school, during school (if its on the menu) and definitely after school. The children prefer it on its own especially if it is Cravendale. Their favourite way to drink it is with a straw, in one of these covered cups as the cats will compete for it otherwise.

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Now we have just done Halloween in our house the children’s thoughts soon turn to Christmas (I know, but they are counting the weeks already) and of course we always have to leave food and drink out for Santa on Christmas Eve so even Santa will be drinking Cravendale this winter.

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“This post is an entry for BritMums #MilkDrinkersMilk Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale

Having fun with the #HandAScavengerHunt

I love a challenge and it sure was to find the items on the #HandAScavengerHunt. Tots100 and H&A have come up with a fun summer activity for us grown ups. It is to find the following items;

  1. Something blue
  2. A rainbow
  3. Something that grows
  4. A summer creepy crawly (butterflies, ladybirds, beetles)
  5. A circle
  6. A red front door
  7. A ball
  8. Something on wheels
  9. H&A Frozen Olaf Bath & Shower Bubbles
  10. H&A Frozen Olaf Colour Change Wash Mitt

Then all you do is write a blog post and share it on Twitter or Instagram tagging @tots100 and using the hashtag #HandAScavengerHunt. It is worth entering as the prize is heaps of Frozen goodies my daughter would love.

BeFunky CollageBeFunky CollageaWith the children’s help I managed all of them; some with a little interpretation, but we had great fun doing this.

This is my entry for @Tots100 and H&A’s scavenger hunt.

Walk The Plank With A Turkey Galleon boat for the #TurkeyTractorChallenge

When I saw that there was a British Turkey & Red Tractor Recipe Challenge we just had to take part. We were cutting it fine time-wise so unfortunately I don’t think there is any more time to enter. Usually I enter ahead of time so I can encourage other people to take part, but sorry not this time.

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Red Tractor food standards cover a range of UK products, including meat, dairy, cereals and fruit and vegetables. Just look for the logo on pack to ensure that the product has been produced to some of the most comprehensive and respected standards in the world. The logo ensures food is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly – from farms to fork! More info can be found at www.redtractor.org.uk. This challenge is designed to help raise awareness of The Red Tractor logo.

I really wondered what to do for this; often pirate themed food fits more of a dessert theme rather than a main course. So I set the children thinking, in the end they decided that we should make a galleon boat; ambitions; yes! Anyway, they loved getting dressed up for the occasion and pretending to help! So we decided to use Red Tractor turkey mince which we combined with onions, mushrooms and parsley. It is a simple recipe which the children also enjoy baking with chicken or sausage meat. So they followed the recipe and then we decorated the galleon afterwards. Here is the result!

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‘This is SlummyMummy’s entry for the British Turkey Blogger Recipe Challenge’  Other recipes can be found at British Turkey Website.

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Anyone for tennis?

We are definitely not the sportiest of families; but my girls and I dance and the boys enjoy BMX and hubby loves road biking. We were looking for things to do over the summer so when I noticed the Tots100 competition to try tennis I thought it was a great idea for a day out. I popped into the shops and picked up some rackets and tennis balls and headed to the nearest court which for us is next to the playground. It was deserted!

This weekend (1st & 2nd August) was the last weekend of the Great British Tennis Weekend, run by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) where clubs all over the country opened their doors to give anyone the chance to play tennis for FREE.

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As a result of our hours worth of tennis my son now wants lessons! We had a great time and every time we drive past the courts I end up getting asked when we can next play. We followed up the playing with some strawberry picking and some traditional strawberries and cream in the park. A superb days activities and 3 happy exercised and well fed children can’t be bad!

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To enter the competition just share a photo of your family playing tennis on Twitter or Instagram tagging @BritishTennis and @tots100 with the phrase #AnyoneforTennis Photo Challenge and you could win £100 in vouchers, or write a blog post and link to The Great British Tennis Weekend to win an expenses-paid trip to London for the whole family, including the chance to see your favourite tennis stars at the prestigious ATP World Finals!

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