Saturday, 31 July 2010

Days Out for the Kids this Summer!

The summer holidays made easy!

Check out the National Trust website for their "60 Days of Summer" activity planner with loads of ideas for great days out.

Simply start at their home page where you'll find "Schools Out". There are links to various local planners too, for example their "Get Sussed for Summer" planner for the East Midlands. (simply type "Get Sussed for Summer" in their search engine and you're there.)

Have fun!

The Essential Day Trip Packing List for Mums!

So you're off on a day trip during these summer holidays. So what to pack?

For the children:

  • A snack box (raisins, goodie bars, mini chocolate bars, bananas, at least 2 juice drinks per child)
  • Sun hat
  • Sun cream (ideally cream them before you go out, but take some spare just in case!)
  • Rain coat, or if you can manage it a rain suit (they include legs, and this is England you know!)
  • Wellies
  • Nappies/wipes/nappy bags if applicable
  • Change of clothes for each child (including underwear - in case they get drenched, muddy, sandy... etc)
  • A mini high chair, or bumper cushion, for small children in case highchairs aren't available; OR,
  • A picnic blanket (regardless of if you've taken a picnic - these are really useful)
  • Tissues
  • Antibacterial hand gel
  • Mini first aid kit (single dose sachets of children's paracetamol and ibuprofen, plasters, antibacterial cream for cuts and scrapes)
  • A mini colouring book and pencils for each child (just in case)
  • A flask - a large one with a lid that converts to a cup (or two cups if you can manage it. Thermos, of course, do a good one) for that all important cuppa!
  • Spare socks for all (for some reason they always need socks)
  • A buggy - if only to carry that lot around in.
Having a picnic?
  • A selection of sandwiches
  • A selection of party food to your taste (scotch eggs, sausage rolls, mini sausages, cheesy dippers, couscous, pasta salad, cucumber sticks, grapes, etc etc)
  • Plastic plates for all (makes it much easier to track whether they've all actually eaten anything!)
  • More juice for all - ideally not requiring separate cups
  • A selection of deserts to your taste (mini jelly pots and spoons, mousse pots, cupcakes/fairy cakes, etc )
  • Milk for babies
  • At least one bib
  • Baby food, and spoons.
For yourself:
  • Your wellies
  • A change of socks
  • Sunhat or baseball cap
  • Your own suncream (don't forget those shoulders. See earlier post!)
  • Raincoat
  • Change of clothes - if only to keep in the car. I've had juice split all over me more than once, and those nappies aren't always foolproof; especially when they are sat on your knee!)
  • Adult paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Money!
  • Any relevant tickets, annual passes etc
And of course, the all important kitchen sink.
Let me know if I missed anything....

Beauty Treatments in North Derbyshire - Yummy!

I've actually had a rare chance to get myself down to the Beauty Salon!

This week I tried out a new beauty salon. "Pure" is cosy, being housed within Woodlands Fitness Centre, but friendly, and they've had an offer advertised for weeks that I'd been itching to try. The offer, entitled "Strawberries & Cream", consists of a Manicure, Pedicure and Back Massage, all for just £35.

So the second I realised I'd got an afternoon to myself (Girls out with Grandma!), I booked in quick.

I'm so glad I did. It's only when I finally get around to doing these self indulgent things that I realise just how good for your soul it is to treat yourself. Particularly when you have children and their needs always take priority over your own!

Michelle, the friendly beautician, immediately set me at ease with a lovely cuppa (how English am I?!), and we started with the Manicure and a good ol' gossip. By the time I'd had the Pedicure I was full of that post-gossip glow and already pretty relaxed. The back massage nearly sent me off to sleep. Lovely!

And now, of course, I feel all Yummy Mummy again, with my posh fingers and toes. Now where did I leave those strappies?

Pure is at Woodlands Fitness & Leisure Centre on Sheffield Road, and is open 7 days a week (so you can treat those feet after a night dancing on the Saturday.... not that I've done that for a while - woe is me!)

Go to for opening times and contact details.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Great family days out at Wheelgate Adventure Park

We had an absolute ball yesterday!

I took the girls to Wheelgate Adventure Park ( It was brilliant. My mate had suggested it for a day out with my two girls (4 and 1yrs) and her girl and boy (4 and 1yrs). I'd never been before, but I wish I had.

It's near Mansfield, in the East Midlands, and is perfect for little ones. They have all the traditional children's activities; a carousel, small airplane rides, a mini pirate ship, a 6 lane bumpy slide (with traditional sacks to slide down on!) and a playground area including 2 mini zip lines (that the older girls loved), slides, swings, special swings for babies, a fort, climbing frame, monkey bars etc. And that was before you got near the mini roller coaster, go-carts, pitch and putt, the toddler's play village and the larger Robin Hood fort area for older children, the bouncy castles (at least 4), the mini train and the Tropical House! And if it happened to rain, there was a huge indoor play centre, split into older and younger children's areas.

We never made it inside the indoor play area.

The girls loved it. Most of the rides have a minimum height restriction of 1 metre or 1 .1 metres. But you have to pay for all children bigger than 95cm, because they can go on some rides accompanied by an adult. The height restrictions do vary across the rides - so beware what promises you make!

So for a good day out, for only £9.45 each (I had to pay for myself and the elder. The younger got in free, so it cost us £18.90), it's definitely worth it. We took a picnic and plenty of juice and snacks, so didn't spend a penny other than the admission fee.

Word of warning for yummy mummy's everywhere though. I managed to get sun burnt and a mild case of sunstroke, even though we had our rain coats and wellies with us. Here in the Midlands we have been getting those warm, but overcast, days. It appears that, even through cloud, my fair skin can't cope! I hadn't put the girls in hats, and I'm normally paranoid about sunscreen and hats simply because of how easily I know I burn. So for me to get caught out is very rare! Luckily the girls were fine. Phew!

Beware of the sneaky sun this school holiday season. White lines across your shoulders is not a yummy mummy look!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Baby Products - The Best Twin Buggy? A Phil & Ted

I'm still completely in love with my Phil & Ted buggy (with doubles kit!), and I'm starting to mourn it's inevitable loss. My daughters are growing up so fast, I'm fairly sure I won't be able to use it for both of them much longer. I still keep the back seat attached, even when I don't need it for a second child, because, quite frankly, why carry your shopping when it can sit in a seat?

The buggy is our third one. The first was a travel system. Detachable car seat, various seat settings. It was Mothercare's Trenton Deluxe, with glove compartment and temperature gauge. I kid not. It was fantastic. The second was a lightweight basic buggy (for holidays - Mamas n Paps). Then we had a second child, when the first still couldn't walk for very long without lifting her arms up to be carried; have you noticed that they stop even asking to be picked up; they think the arm gesture is enough; and we looked for an appropriate buggy.

The Phil & Ted was the only buggy system for siblings about 2 years apart. A twin buggy, without the twin buggy wheelbase. In fact it's no bigger than most singles.

I love it.

Do you think I could still use it when both of them are too big? Maybe sit a doll in the baby seat and pretend, just so I have space for the shopping!?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Are boys really that aggressive when they're 6?

I've spent 2 hours of my afternoon in an indoor play centre. I assume they have similar places all over the UK, but here in the Midlands they seem to have replaced the 'garden' as the place to let your kids let off some steam. (I'm sure it's because we're paranoid about muck these days and won't let them play out if it's wet!)

My girls both love these play centres. But conditionally. The condition seems to be that there are practically no other children there, OR, that all other children in the place are the same age as them and preferably also girls.

I thought this slightly odd to start with. The first occasion we were in such a place and the elder came running up to tell me she wanted to go home, I thought it was a one-off occurrence. But she was adamant that they were "too many scary big boys". She clearly wasn't enjoying herself anymore, so we did, indeed, come home.

Today though I took the chance to have a good look around whilst we were there. I only had the elder with me, so I could take a breath! And I was fairly surprised to notice the level of aggression the young boys had. Do we really bring our children up to meet such stereotypes? Or are they just naturally like that, and we can't really do much about it, even if we wanted to?

The boys all dived into the 'football' area - of course. Again, stereotype? Who taught them that!? And proceeded to wallop the ball at each other, flinging their legs about in a manner which, I'm sorry, but even I could tell would warrant a red card and a comment about dangerous play. And then, when a ball accidentally whacked them in the head, they squared up to the boy who had kicked the ball and started shouting about how they could take them.


If it were girls, the offending girl would be apologising before the victim had chance to turn around, and the victim would no doubt say, as a result, "it's fine, thanks".

I guess I'm just so shocked that our boys have such anger inside them. And it made me wonder why? Is it our fault as parents? Or are they just dealt that hand of genes?

Just before we left, a girl, was being mercilessly teased by a bunch of about 5 boys. Well, I say teased, but that's far too tame. They were throwing (I toyed with 'chucking' there - and technically, up here in the North, that would be more accurate and, I'd argue, more representative of the manner of the throwing!). They were throwing those sponge shapes they have in these places; that are less like sponges and more like bricks when they hit you in the face; straight at this girl of about 7 or 8 years. She clearly knew them, and was defending herself well, and even attempting a few throws of her own. But then, the boy got too close, and the well aimed kick he received floored him for at least a minute.

I had too chuckle, even though it really, when you think about it, isn't that funny. But come on...I hear some of you say... Did he not ask for it!? If you start violence, should you not expect violence in return? Actually no. And that's why I teach my girls; no kicking, hitting or throwing at people. Because quite frankly it's dangerous, and I worry where it may lead.

Do mums of boys teach the boys that? Let me know. I'm intrigued. Do we really treat girls and boys so differently at such a young age?

Cor - that got a bit deep... sorry.... Back to being yummy next time I think. Tricks like washing your hair and getting the conditioner on so it can do it's thing while you scrub everything else. Or writing envelopes and thank you cards, whilst simultaneously talking on the phone.... I'm full of time saving multi-tasking me! Pity you can't cook dinner whilst sleeping... I'd like that one!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Still Hurting!

Last week I agreed to complete my second Race for Life in the space of a month. My friend needed my support.... I was there.

Only I didn't really think about the fact that she goes out running. Fairly regularly. And I don't.

"It's alright, we'll do it together" she responded, when I said that it really didn't matter if she wanted to run ahead at any point. I'm not fit, I pointed out, I'll be walking most of it. "No problem", she said, "I haven't trained for it anyway. We'll walk fast shall we?"

Hmmmmm. I walked fast for most of the Race for Lift in Nottingham. (Jogging both at the start and end, of course!) And I managed to complete that in 43 minutes. But now, I'd set a yardstick. My mate obviously wasn't going to let me do it slower! "Come on," she encouraged, "we can beat that time easily!".

So I found myself jogging. A lot.

By the time we got to the final kilometre I felt I was going to struggle to jog the last section. But then a buggy overtook us. Not just a basic, standard, single buggy. Oh No. A double buggy. With an annoyingly relaxed, fully made-up, glamorous sunglasses-wearing Yummy Mummy pushing it along at a pace far superior to mine.

Well. What's a girl to do. Somehow I ran the last section, and knocked 5 minutes off my previous time, completing the 5 km in 38 minutes.

Which was great. And I was on a high for the rest of the day.

Haven't been able to walk since though. And I didn't beat the buggy.......


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Children's Books - Which one's do I pick?!

I've been buying and reading books since before I can remember. I have always been a 'reader'. One of those children that, when I wasn't at dance class, always had my nose in some book or other. I love stories. I get so involved in books that, if someone asks me a question whilst I am reading, there's a short delay (while my brain processes the question, taps me on the shoulder, and asks politely if I want to respond to this particular question) and then I answer it, or more commonly, because by this point I have no real memory of the question, say "Pardon?". The delay makes my husband laugh, when it's not irritating him! It's like talking to me via satellite. I'm sure people think I'm ignoring them, or doing it on purpose, but I promise I'm not!

So what books do you select for a baby, toddler, little girl, when you are a big reader yourself, and have such a specific view on what you like and dislike?

Well, I've tried to be as open as possible. To regularly visit my local library (most libraries do a weekly 'story time' session for babies and toddlers which is free!). I allow my daughters to look through the children's books themselves (no matter what mess they make in the process - I simply do a quick tidy up when we're finished). I try and let my girls to pick the story books themselves and not 'edit' their choices with comments like "Oh, that one doesn't look very good ,love, how about this one instead". Though I still do that more than I'd like.

As a result of letting them pick, we've discovered some gems! I thought I'd share them here.

My 4 year olds' favourite story at the moment is "Fancy Nancy". Written by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, published by HarperCollins Children's Books originally in the U.S.A in 2006, then in Great Britain in 2007, it's a 32 page picture book about Nancy and was a Number 1 New York Times bestseller. Nancy loves being fancy. Sparkly shoes, feather boas, flower covered hats and ACCESSORIES! It's a brilliant story that my daughter clearly identifies with. And there are another 5 in the series. Only, be prepared to get a little bit fancier yourself! (then enter Fancy Nancy into the Search engine on the top right.)

Julia Donaldson has obviously written one of the most famous of children's stories, "The Gruffalo". It's one that the elder has only just got into. But one of her utmost favourites over the last 3 years has been Julia's picture book "Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose". Illustrated by Nick Sharratt and published by Macmillan Children's Books, it's a 24 page picture book about a dinner party for animals. Good manners are few, but fun is had by all. It's a lovely, rhyming story, with excellent pictures and opportunity for practising animal noises if you want to get imaginative! Though I'm not sure what noises the Gazelle and Hyena may make! (and enter the title into the search engine)

A recent discovery for my 4 year old is "The Fabulous Fairy Feast" written and illustrated by Sue Heap and published by Egmont. A 32 page picture book (with 2 pages that open out to the side for the scene in the wood! This story is, again, beautifully written. It isn't a rhyming story, but it does have some lovely little rhyming sections. The pace of the writing is excellent, making it fun to read out loud. And I particularly like the fact that Lizzie Little-Fairy has a pet frog called Burp and a flying pink bicycle! (again search for the title)

Finally a couple of choices for the 1 year old in the family.

Firstly a set of books illustrated by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo's illustrator!), published by Campbell Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Books. The collection of 4 books is called "Animal Rhymes", and contains "Freddy the Frog", "Lizzie the Lamb", "Katie the Kitten" and "Pip the Puppy". Short rhyming 8 page story books with beautiful pictures, with plenty for little fingers to point out. (search for title)

Secondly, the classic of course, Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". No need for fancy furry bits in the book. No need for flaps, or pull outs. Just a few well chosen holes where the little caterpillar has eaten. Watch the giggling start when you put your fingers at the back of the page to tickle your child's finger when they put it through the holes! It does mean that there is one particular page (where the caterpillar eats a long list of scrumptious foods) that is a favourite, and it's hard to get the story moving past that page! Oh well. Never mind! (search by title)

I hope that gives you some ideas. I've added the links to the book publishers for more information, and if you like the look of them you should be able to get them from local libraries, even if you order them (which you can do for free!).

Have fun reading!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Nearly a Yummy Mummy! And avoiding tantrums some more!

Feeling much more like a Yummy Mummy this week!

I've rediscovered some clothes that I haven't worn for at least 5 years, but somehow seem to work this summer. I've also topped up my casual collection with a couple of this season's Maxi dresses. It beats Jeans and a dodgy t-shirt...and both dresses are washable for a change! (Monsoon if you're interested!)

I'm off to have my initial fitness test at the Gym tonight. Regular readers will be confused, since I joined the Gym back in January. I did have the initial assessment booked in then, but had to cancel, and as every mummy will know, it takes forever for something that I need to arrange for me to get back up to the top of the to-do list. So I've only just re-booked it. Poor, I know!

I've had to refrain from any alcohol or caffeine for 24 hours before it. I also can't eat for 4-5 hours before. It's booked for 5.30pm. I've done 1 hour already, but won't be able to eat until at least 7.30pm since I'll return home and jump straight into the girls story time routine. Not sure how I'll cope with no food for that long. I'm sure I'll get chocolate withdrawal! I'll let you know how I get on...

Oh.... my feeling of Yummy Mumminess is also down to 'relaxing'. I've been telling myself to chill out this week. Every time I feel the tension building, or hear my voice raising, I am consciously saying the next sentence more slowly and quietly. And taking a deep breath. I've arrived places a little later than I would have liked as a result. It would appear that I can't relax without slowing the pace of everything I do. But I guess I can just leave a little more time. And to be fair, I've not been actually late yet! I've found the best trigger to get me in this calm and happy state of mind is listening to the Crazy Love album by Micheal Buble. There are some great feel good tunes on there!

I haven't been leaving any tips on parenting recently though. I guess my tip for this week is just that; to relax. It seems to keep the children more relaxed and less liable to tantrums.

So take a breath. Pause. Smile to yourself. Hum a tune! Then carry on.

Just make sure the tune isn't something by Metallica. I'm not entirely sure that would lead to the calm quietness I'm thinking of!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Still washing clothes....

Got back from hols last Friday. But still had the washing machine going constantly today, and I feel like I've spent the whole last week simply putting washing on the line, taking it off again and ironing it.

Remind me to take advantage of the laundry service on hols next time... it can't be that expensive surely!??

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