To drive-through or to walk in?

coffee2aThe imminent opening of a drive-through coffee shop near where we live is causing a bit of a stir in our city’s social media pages.

Other than trying to decide whether to drive-through or drive-thru, the celestial-deer named outlet has left me pondering whether I think the whole concept is a good idea or not.

Objectively, I don’t like the way, as a society, we are becoming more and more like automatons isolated in our tin cans with less and less human interaction required.

Subjectively, as the mother of three aged 5 and under, and it’s a big Hell Yeah! from me (as long as they serve orange juice through their window as well because I don’t actually drink coffee…).

I regularly use a drive-through petrol station because why go to the hassle of getting up to three small children in and out of a car, potentially waking them up and/or putting them in front of pester power sweet displays, if you don’t have to?

So I asked some other family bloggers what side of the fence I should come down on.

Linda Hobbis of Mother Distracted, concentrating on fast food drive-throughs, agrees with my objective side – “Hate them.  Cheap, unhealthy food chucked at you in a brown bag.  That’s no way to eat.  Not to mention the nation’s ever growing girth.  Better food and better priced food at service stations is what I would prefer”.

Household Money Saving’s Pete Chatfield joins me astride the fence.  “I love them, apart from two things.  Some of them are designed so badly that when it rains, it drips from the roof into your car when you’re ordering.  And I hate being sat in a queue of 12 cars to see that it’s empty inside.  Despite that, it means I don’t have to move from my car and use my legs.  I would like to see a drive-through Toby Carvery though.”

And other parents also cherish the route of less faff.

“I love them because I don’t have to worry about all the hassle of getting the baby out of the car, into a pushchair, somehow carry the food and manage a pushchair and then get everyone and everything back into the car,” says Laura Chesmer of Autumn’s Mummy.  “Sometimes when my daughter was tiny I’d drive around to get her to sleep then got to the drive through to get some lunch in peace.  It was the only way sometimes!”

And Sinead Latham agrees, “Drive through Sbux has saved many a long motorway journey with just me and the Small.  Don’t have to worry about waking them up and dragging them out of the car when they are sleeping.”

As does All Things Pink’s Maya Dupre, “Love Starbucks and it’s so much easier when they have a drive through especially when you have a baby.  It saves you from getting out the pushchair just to walk in and grab a frappe and then juggle that, your purse and bag back to the car!”

And, for some parents, this practicality can be even more important for them as Ann Hickman of Rainbows are too beautiful explains.  “Drive throughs can be super useful for us.  Two of our kids are autistic and can find the process of going and getting things in a shop stressful.  This way we can get things in our car and the kids can go in when/if they’ve got used to it and the food.  Big thumbs up from us.”

Some mums are such big fans of the idea they’d like to see more services functioning in the same way.

“I’d like a drive-through doctor for routine appointments because I’m tired of sitting for an hour in a waiting room full of sick people for an appointment that’s two minutes long anyway!” says Welsh Mum Christy Bruckner.

“My friend has often told me about the drive through nurseries they have in Texas – she used to drive to the nursery, the staff unbuckle the kids then you drive off!  It’s the same with pick-up.  No fighting for a car parking space or playground politics.  Sounds like the dream!” says Samantha Rickelton of North East Family Fun.

“Obsessed with a drive through!!!” Jenna Newell of Then There Were Three admits.  “They’re so convenient when you have kids.  I wish we had drive thru cash machines here like America, or where I can order my shop online and go to a drive thru to collect it.  Or a drive thru Nando’s!”

And Welsh Mum Writing Helen Trehane agrees with the need for a step up from supermarket click and collect, “Love a drive-thru coffee franchise.  The car is the only place my son will nap now.  I’d like a proper drive through shop.  I’m not talking click and collect, I just want to sit in the car, with Boy asleep, open the boot and let someone load it with my order.”

But it’s Lauren Gordon from Dilan and Me and The Mummy Monster’s Nicola Wills that share my desire for a particular new drive-through service.

“Love them,” says Lauren.  “So good when the baby is asleep and you don’t want to wake them.  I really wish there was a drive through Tesco express type shop, just to pick up the basics like bread and milk without getting out of the car!”

“I want a drive through essentials shop!!!” agrees Nicola.  “I hate having to get the boys out when all I need is milk!!”

Do you love them or hate them?  If you have another genius idea for one then let us know below!

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And when they were up they were up…

Down Syndrome Bloggers Network: High highs, low lows

The Down Syndrome Bloggers Network group monthly prompt for January is “They say when you are a special needs parent the highs are higher… and the lows are lower.  I have found this to be…”

FaithReflectionThey say you shouldn’t compare.

But it’s really hard not to isn’t it?

I would’ve thought that we’d have been used to it after Luke decided to set his own schedule when it came to milestones but I can’t pretend it’s not still difficult.

Whenever it’s just us and I can see Faith’s individual progress, it’s fine.  Then I see another baby of a similar age and it’s not as easy.

At just one year old I’m not sure we’re far enough into this journey together for me to be able to answer this month’s prompt with any surety.

Whenever any of your children achieves something it makes your heart swell but the harder someone tries to do something the greater the resulting celebration and I know when Faith reaches a milestone it comes with a whole bucket load of relief too.

For now I remind myself that life is not a race that you want to finish first, that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses that may change and develop over time, hope that she’ll never need open heart surgery again and let my heart swell threefold everytime she shares a smile or giggle with us.

Read more from the Down Syndrome Bloggers Network on the theme of highs and lows:
Trista Park – Highs and lows 

2018 events mean lots of fun in the year ahead

Does the year 2018 still sound futuristic to anyone else?  Some of us are still expecting the Y2K bug to wreak havoc anytime soon…

Fortunately 2018 – the Year of Engineering, the RAF’s Centenary, the 100th anniversary of female suffrage, the 60th anniversary of the LEGO brick – has a lot more positive things in store in Lincolnshire and beyond.

If you’re organising an event you’d like added to this list then let me know at hello@theminimalpi.co.uk and if you’re particularly looking forward to attending an event yourself this year then tell us all about it in the comments below!

January 30th: International Bomber Command Centre
Serving as a point of recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command, the IBCC opens at the end of January.

February 12th – 17th: Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood
Trusthorpe Village Hall Theatre Group pantomime

February 24th: Lincoln Mums Expo
Advice, support information, special offers and play/activities for mums to be, babies, right through to toddlers and big kids too.

March 18th: City of Lincoln 10K
Stretch your legs whilst running around Lincoln’s historic landmarks including the Cathedral and the city’s Roman walls.

March 24th and 25th: Discover Lincolnshire Weekend
A weekend of free entry to many of Lincoln city’s and countryside’s attractions.

March 27: Komposit The Performance
Five young composers from the East Midlands present their new pieces of music.

April 8th: Countryside Lincs
The Lincolnshire Showground’s interactive family day out featuring all the fun farming, food and the countryside have to offer.

May 4th-11th: Lincoln Fashion Week
Eight days of fashion events in venues across Lincoln city centre.

June 20th-21st: Lincolnshire Show
A celebration of rural Lincolnshire, with an eclectic mix of entertainment, food, shopping, music, horticulture and farm life.

July 14th-15th: Newark Book Festival
Two days dedicated to celebrating authors and their work that aim to “fire your imaginations, challenge and inspire you present the very best in literature and the arts”.

August 24th-27th: Asylum Steampunk Festival
The largest and longest running steampunk festival attracting participants from around the globe.

August 31st-September 2nd: So Festival
A coastal festival of outdoor theatre.

September 26th-30th: Gravity Fields
The theme for this year’s science-based festival held in Grantham is “voyages of discovery”.

October 1st-31st: Wolds Words
An autumnal cultural festival featuring an array of craft, heritage, literature and performances.

October 13th: Lincoln Sausage Festival
Cooking demonstrations, food stalls, children’s entertainment and live music.

November 24th: Inflatable 5k Santa Run
Flip, bounce and boing your way around the inflatable assault course in full Santa kit at the Lincolnshire Showground.

December 1st-2nd: Lincolnshire Food and Gift
The fair brings together more than 150 varied stands with the very best Christmas offerings, entertainment from live choir groups, cookery demonstrations and a children’s Santa’s Workshop.

December 6th-9th: Lincoln Christmas Market
Cultural entertainment and more than 200 stalls nestled within the medieval square and surrounding area.

 

An unwrappable gift

Down Syndrome Bloggers Network: Intangible Gift

The Down Syndrome Bloggers Network group monthly prompt for December is “What is one intangible gift you want to give to your child?”

When my three year old is asked to choose just one thing she really struggles.  If she picks up wrist bells from a group’s music box she has to have at least four, one for each wrist and ankle and preferably a few more in her hands as well.  One item from the songbag becomes a pile in front of my feet.  One toy from the shop usually translates as a minimum of one for each hand.

It turns out she might get it from me.  When I first thought about the Down Syndrome Bloggers Network group’s December prompt what one intangible gift I would give to my children a whole list quickly formed in my mind.

IMG_5841[1]It’s quite normal to have lots of hopes and dreams for your children’s future and, whilst you bemoan how quickly the time goes, you also want to fast forward to see the adult they’ll become and the results of the paths they will choose and whether or not they take any notice of any of the signposts you indicate along the way.

I guess when you have a disabled child those aspirations become slightly coloured, assumptions underlying them unsettled.

I know that Faith may require an extra dose of all the strengths you wish for any child.

Determination is key and fortunately Faith is currently displaying no shortage of this.  If the road to success is trying hard then, even if she takes a little longer than typical, she’s sure to reach her goal.

But, as we head towards the time of year that celebrates peace, perhaps we should focus on the present rather than projecting ourselves into crystal ball imaginings.

So I will choose patience as the gift I would procure for her if I could.  Patience with herself, patience with a society that seems obsessed with pushing forward when we could be enjoying the moment, patience with people who don’t always show the kindness they should to those of differing abilities they lack the understanding of and patience with her mother as she learns to navigate this new world alongside her.

And maybe if I manage to get enough patience for her, a little bit could rub off on me too.

Read more from the Down Syndrome Bloggers Network on the theme of one intangible gift:
Bean Post Farmstead – A Priceless Gift: Instilling a sense of purpose in our children
Cedar’s Story – Intangible Gifts: The Gift of Opportunity 

Trista Park – Joy to the World

Festive fun in the fairytale forest

Robin-Hood-BannerIn the midst of Lincoln’s seasonal theatrical offerings, the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre has carved out its niche by offering a winter show rather than a traditional pantomime.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian – Winter in Sherwood is 2017’s production by The Lincoln Company made up of Lincoln School of Performing Arts students.  It’s a perfect pick for the year of the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest and we were delighted to be guests of the arts centre for its opening night on Tuesday.

Littered with eclectic cultural references, it earns its age 6+ recommendation with its use of heightened language but there was still plenty for my younger minis to enjoy too.

Strong heroes, tomfoolery and hijinks with a pair of gormless guards and the dubious allegiances of some wandering minstrels, rousing songs to clap along to, a repetitive strain to join in with that saw my three year old drawing back her bow, a few flash bangs, a pretty smattering of snow, a boo-able baddie and alternative staging with the audience sitting on three sides of the action proved very engaging to all who had come to watch.

Luke says his favourite bit was when Robin Hood was locked up in the castle with the sheriff’s two hapless knights, a comic scene that included all his three favourite characters and an impressive show of archery skill, and Willow was absolutely mesmerised by meeting the characters after the show who were very lovely with a couple of star struck mini theatre goers.

Winter in Sherwood is showing at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre until Sunday, December 24th and includes a relaxed performance on Friday, December 22nd.  Click here for further information. 

Independent Lincoln makes buying small easy

Lincoln has developed in recent years to become a shopping destination with a wide range of retailers including many that welcome younger visitors through their doors.

Start in the St Mark’s Shopping Centre and you’ll find big brand names such as Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Toys R Us, The Entertainer and Debenhams.  Move into the centre of the city and you’ll find an area starting to show the benefits of its ongoing rejuvenation.

But it’s when you take steps towards and up Steep Hill to the top end of Lincoln that you’ll be rewarded with a selection of independent shop frontages that are unique to the city.

As today is Small Business Saturday – “a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small business in their communities” – The Mini Malpi asked a couple of those stores what they’d pick from their ranges as Christmas presents for little ones this year…

 

Bo Peep Boutique (Bailgate, Lincoln) 

A family run business, Bo Peep Boutique stocks children’s clothing, lifestyle products and traditional toys that describes its ranges as “one of a kind, quirky, different, funky and fun”. Here are just some of Emma’s favourites.LottieDoll

“We love Lottie Dolls (recommended age 3+) because they are aspirational and based on a child’s proportions rather than a grownup. £18.99.

Janod“Janod Storyboxes are one of our favourite new products. These boxes are designed for imaginative play including knights, firefighters and fairytales. £9.99

Tigger“The Orange Tree Winnie The Pooh range is suitable from 12 months plus. The new range of wooden toys just launched includes pull-alongs, trains and pushups.  Lovely and traditional, starting from £4.99.

JellyCatAquaBunny“Jellycat, designed in the UK, are the softest soft toy range on the market.  We stock a wide range including books, comforters and toys from £8 upwards.”

 

With Love From Lincolnshire (Burton Road, Lincoln)

With Love From Lincolnshire is definitely the perfect place to visit on Small Business Saturday as where “every item has been lovingly handmade by local craftspeople” “you will find over 70 small local business under one roof”.  Like most small independent stores, Pirjo Holtta doesn’t stock anything she doesn’t love herself but here she picks out some highlights for us.

Cardigans“The most beautiful cardigans are crocheted by Justine.  These cardigans come in all the colours of the rainbow and in sizes: 0-3m £6, 3-6m £6, 6-12m £7, 1-2yrs £8, 3-4yrs £10, 5-6yrs £12, 7-8 £14.  By buying one of these cardigans you don’t only support one small local business but three!  The Stylecraft Special DK yarn is from Number Four (also Burton Road, Lincoln), Justine (Just Handmade) has crocheted the cardigans and you can buy them from With Love From Lincolnshire.

“Nothing keeps a little one warm like a lovingly handmade blanket or a quilt and we stock a range, including some with matching bunting, by crafters Val, Nicole (Little Sew It All) and Justine.  And we’ve also got lots of hats and mittens for little ones full of character!

Octocape“Jacqui’s octocapes are her best selling items!  With no fiddly buttons you just put it over your child’s head and it will keep their neck and chest warm without bulkiness. Great to wear in a car seat too! £5.50.

“Reversible dresses for little ones must be one of the best inventions ever!  Accidents happen and no-one needs to know if you’re wearing one of these – just quickly turn it round!  These are easy to put on and take off with snappers on the back or on the shoulders.  This is also a great time to buy a pinafore dress. Add layers underneath and cardi on top, start reducing layers towards spring and wear on its own in the summer!  £9 each or 2 for £15 by Rachel Pugh and from £7 in sizes 0-4 by Pauline.

GrowMePants“These Grow-With-Me-Pants have been designed and made by Karen Booth Designs with folded hems and waistband for your little one and are made with a pre-washed cotton and lycra jersey fabric for minimal shrinkage and added bounce back comfort.  No digging in elastic!  They are £7.99 a pair in sizes from newborn to toddler.”

 

Lindum Books (Bailgate, Lincoln)

Looking for a book?  Independent book store Lindum Books gave us their recommendations here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

 

If you are challenging yourself to the sheer walk up the hill (or taking the bus and walking down) then you might also want to pop in to Annual (Grantham Street, Lincoln), that has a passion for unique design and an exploration into making the world for children stimulating and fun, and Object and Line (Bailgate, Lincoln) that searches out small to medium companies worldwide that have high design values.

Are you buying small this year?  Recommend a local business from near you in the comments below and make someone’s day!