New book day!

AlansBigScaryTeethI learnt about the Bookstart scheme to give books to all children at certain ages before school “to help families read together every day and inspire children with a rewarding love of books” whilst writing a books page for our local newspaper long before having children.

So since having children, finding out what’s in their Bookstart packs has always been something I’ve been quite excited about.

Today Luke came home from nursery with his latest selection – Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis (Walker Books).

Coincidentally, Willow has asked me several times during the day to draw her a crocodile so straight away it’s been a very fortuitous choice.

And, with its scares, secrets, surprises and self-discovery, it was a fun read too.

Alan comes from a long line of very scary alligators and loves being scary himself but the other jungle animals come to discover all is not what it seems and, with a little bit of support, Alan finds out that not only is he talented in more than just one way, he can also put his favourite skill to good use instead of bad.

Any story that gives my children the chance to practice their evil laughs, joining in with Alan’s “BWA-HA-HA!”, gets my vote and, having been asked to read it more than once this bedtime, it obviously gets theirs too.

Sunday Sevens #5

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my fifth entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

HowTimeFlies1. How Time Flies

Christopher Nibble wasn’t our only theatrical experience this week as I braved taking all the minis on my own to see How Time Flies at the Lincoln Drill Hall on Monday.  Billed as interactive, it was testament to how engaging the show was that both Luke and Willow were fully focused on the archaeologists’ investigations into ancient skeleton Skelebob’s possible origins and endings whilst I had to walk an unsettled Faith around at the back of the auditorium several times.  Eccentric characters, melodramatic speculation, interesting facts – did you know the largest fossilised poo ever found is seven inches of Viking excrement? – repetitive sing-along musical interludes, a camel that added to the toilet humour and the chance to move, touch, discover, build and be involved in the narrative meant that the minis weren’t the only ones fascinated by the unfolding mystery.  To find out where Handmade Theatre are taking Skelebob next click here.

ChickenHat22. Seasonal storytelling

Less ardent tractor fans who made it past the line of vintage agricultural vehicles quicker than we did at Countryside Lincs last week may have made it to one of Rhubarb Theatre’s interactive storytelling sessions.  Willow obviously knew she’d have a second chance to enjoy one of the company’s theatrical tales as we were booked in to Lindum Books’s monthly storytime on Tuesday.  In honour of the Easter holidays the session was based on The Little Red Hen and saw us decorating and donning flapping chicken hats which Willow was eager to share with daddy later that evening too.  We missed March’s interpretation of Jack and the Flumflum Tree as it was fully booked before we thought to enquire so don’t forget to give them a call to reserve your place if you’d like to take a mini one along in May.  To find out more about the uphill store’s calendar of events click here.

IMG_43933. Celebrity posing

Christopher Nibble wasn’t the only star that Willow was able to pose for the camera with this week.  Despite thinking we’d somehow managed to avoid the Frozen phenomenon we discovered a few weeks back that, whilst we haven’t seen the film all the way through, the minis have with their grandparents.  And Willow seemed to definitely know who Elsa and Anna were when they put in an appearance at Holly Tree soft play centre this weekend and was eager to skip to the front of the queue to get her photo taken with them.

4. Hard graft

Whilst most parents were planning egg hunts and Easter crafts for the bank holiday weekend, the minis’ parents took them to a workhouse instead!  Fortunately for them The Workhouse in Southwell is now a National Trust property and provides exploration and dressing-up opportunities for its visitors instead of hard labour.  And we can confirm that the tasty treats in the cafe are a lot more delicious than the original menu of gruel sounds too.

IMG_44115. Hill Holt Wood

We did have plans to go egg hunting as well though and braved today’s weather forecast to head to Hill Holt Wood to join in their organised search.  We’re going to put our lack of success down to following another group of searchers too closely rather than simply being completely inept at finding any.  Having accumulated a tally of zero, we took a “not ‘appy” Luke and his sisters into the craft room where Easter crowns were decorated and cake devoured in the adjoining cafe.  Luke and Willow were also very privileged to have the hard won chocolatey prizes of friends’ children shared with them (when Luke allowed it as he didn’t think he should take it at first as he hadn’t found an egg).  Refuelled we then took another quick turn around the woods and were well rewarded in racing the raindrops as this time Luke found an egg, now “‘appy” we were allowed to return to the car.  Apparently 100 eggs were originally placed around the woodland, I wonder how many they’re still looking for now!

6. Eggscellent explorers

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Our home, very DIY, egg hunt was much more successful in volume though.  Whilst we had to relocate to indoors, Luke wasn’t satisfied with finding all the shiny-wrapped treats once.  Following their first quest, daddy and mummy were banished to the hall whilst he and Willow re-hid them all so we had to find them instead and then we all took turns to hide and find them over and over again for the next hour or so, albeit with a slightly decreasing supply each time.  It was very heart-warming that Luke, unprompted, was always keen to make sure Willow had as many in her basket as he did.  Although Willow had to be convinced that the prolonged search was a sensible plan of action at first.  She seemed to consider the find the chocolate, eat the chocolate way of playing the game more preferable but soon joined in enthusiastically too, remaining as excited at finding an egg in the same place for the tenth time as she was the first time.

7. Not just chocolate

Luke was given a mini bat signal as part of an Easter gift from grandmum.  Daddy and mummy may let him have his turn soon…

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Everything’s dandy in Dandeville

IMG_4399If you’re looking for a role model to help expand your picky eater’s palate then at first glance Christopher Nibble isn’t your guinea pig.

He, along with his friends and family and all the guinea pigs in Dandeville, love eating dandelion leaves – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At least they’re eating their greens, right?

They love eating them so much that Topsy Turvy Theatre have turned their munching and crunching into a song as part of their stage adaptation of Charlotte Middleton’s story.

Performing at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham today, the company combined cute puppets with musical numbers and an engaging narrative, along with the chance to join in a rain dance, to reenact the horticultural tale.

As well as enjoying a side lesson in the economics of demand and supply, the audience took a trip to the library with the curious cavy and learnt how to cultivate dandelions to ensure they didn’t disappear from the town – but they did also learn that eating a range of food was a good idea along the way too.

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Click on the poster to find out where Topsy Turvy Theatre are taking Christopher next.

Luke liked Mr Rosetti the cafe owner and the farmer trying to sell his cabbages, they both enthusiastically joined in the rain (and get dry) dance and Willow was very excited by the paper dandelion seeds released over the young audience memebers’ heads near the end.

We’ve long been fans of the tale of dandelion derring-do but didn’t realise there were sequels and, whilst Luke and Willow enjoyed a post-show meeting with the furry star, we added Christopher’s Bicycle and Christopher’s Caterpillars to their bedtime reading pile – signed copies too!

And just in case you can’t remember what you have to do – just pick your dandelion’s white head of seeds and 1, 2, 3… blow!

To keep up to date with the Terry O’Toole Theatre’s children’s theatre shows click here.

Topsy Turvy Theatre’s Christopher Nibble

ChristopherNibbleIf you’ve already had your fill of fluffy bunnies and cute chicks this Easter then why not try to turn your children’s attention to guinea pigs instead?

Topsy Turvy Theatre are proudly presenting Christopher Nibble at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham on Saturday, April 15th, at 3pm.

The musical play for children aged 2-7 is adapted from the book by Charlotte Middleton and follows the story of the dandelion-loving cavy as he learns how to save the delicious delicacy from disappearing.

Add in energetic storytelling, handmade puppets and stunning scenery and Christopher Nibble’s tale of derring-do is sure to be as uplifting as any chocolate-fuelled sugar rush in your children’s Easter break.

Click here to find out more about the show. There is also a BEE A Garden Super Hero family workshop at the venue at 1pm celebrating National Garden Week.

Call the theatre on 01522 883311.

Sunday Sevens #4

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my fourth entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

1. Age appropriate behaviour

My eldest daughter is two.  We missed the terrible twos with Luke although he more than made up for it when he hit three.  Willow, however, started engaging in what our health visitor called “age-appropriate behaviour” before her second birthday and the bigger she gets the bigger her outbursts of “age-appropriate behaviour” get.  It’s been an interesting week…

IMG_3478 Babywearing
Look mum, no hands!

2. Beautiful behaviour

It pays to remember how much toddlers are taking in, developing and growing though and it’s lovely when it comes back out in more constructive ways.  Willow’s obviously been noticing me wearing Faith in recent weeks and wanted to try it out herself!

3. And just because

Icecream screamI love this photo!  My fairy-dress wearing, butterfly face-painted, ice cream loving daughter is, of course, amazing.

4. “Beyond my body and labels”

A friend read my Loving a designer label blog post about Faith’s Down’s Syndrome diagnosis and sent me this lovely quote from the book she was reading at the time.

I think it’s safe to say Haemin Sunim is far more eloquent than me: “I wish you could see my true nature.  Beyond my body and labels, there is a river of tenderness and vulnerability.  Beyond stereotypes and assumptions, there is a valley of openness and authenticity.  Beyond memory and ego, there is an ocean of awareness and compassion.”  The book title is The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down and it’s definitely going on my to read list.

5. With bated breath

Anyone else waiting for the decision on primary school places for this September?  Did the email sent out this week get your heart racing?  It was just confirming that we will find out after Easter.  It also stated that 94% of applicants have their first choice.  Which means they have already placed everyone so just tell us already!  (Really don’t want to be in the 6%…)

6. Holidays court ruling

Speaking of schools, this week’s Supreme Court ruling against the father who took his daughter on a term-time holiday has saddened me due to its wider implications.  We are very privileged to have a universal system of public education in the UK and we mustn’t forget that but family should very much come first.

7. They build you up… they knock you down…

Husband: “Hello sexy.”
Son, quite emphatically: “No! Not sexy! Mummy!”
Husband now has a new game…

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Sunday Sevens #3

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my third entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

1. And the winners are…

Isn’t it nice when people agree with you? We already know Lindum Books in the Bailgate is a fabulous book shop and this week the British Book Awards 2017 agreed with us by declaring it the Independent Bookshop of the Year Regional Winner.  And we already knew that the mums who run the weekly Parent & Toddler Group we attend at St Giles Children’s Centre are fabulous and now the Preschool Learning Alliance has recognised it too by awarding them the Outstanding Volunteer Team 2017 Divisional Winner.  Both teams are now headed towards their national rounds – we’re keeping all our mini fingers tightly crossed for them.

2. Taking to the dance floor… possibly…

Luke and Willow have recently started a ballet class as we found one they can do together.  Fortunately they have a very understanding teacher as it’s not gone quite straightforwardly as yet.  Week one was very much a first week for Luke – he sometimes likes to take time to see what’s going on before joining in and the lack of appropriate footwear seemed to be causing issues.  Week two, two pairs of newly acquired ballet shoes on two pairs of feet, and it was Willow who was distracted by hunger as the breakfast-skipping dancer was more inclined to eating snacks than spinning pirouettes.  Week three was going so well until Luke decided to try and make friends with another girl in the class – when his hand-holding advances were spurned his disappointment led him off the dance floor, rejection is tough.  Week four and four out of the five Malpis were sent into meltdown when we couldn’t find where we put the ballet shoes so we never actually made it.  We’re now on an Easter break, probably just as well.

3. Hardwick Hall

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We love being National Trust members and when we needed to be in Sheffield late afternoon today it gave us a great opportunity to drop in and enjoy one of its special places on the way.  The organisation’s lovely Tweeter suggested Hardwick Hall which, with its woodland play trail leading you in from the car park, two houses to explore and gardens showing the signs of Spring, along with the lovely weather, proved perfect for the minis to explore and it was a shame we had to interrupt a game of hide and seek to leave as early as we needed to because of our appointment – Luke particularly liked climbing the steps and going “really, really high” in the ruinous Old Hall.  It’s also been the perfect lead in to Hh week at Luke’s nursery next week with Hardwick Hall, house and high.

4. Road signs

TrafficSetLuke’s nursery-prompted obsession with road signs shows no signs of abating.  Grandmum has already fuelled his zeal with a traffic light crafting session and then she spotted this traffic set – with working traffic/green man lights!  We raced down to Sainsbury’s to pick up a set for ourselves as soon as she told us about them – they’re still in the box at the moment but hopefully they’ll go down well.

5. Godmum playdate

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Who doesn’t love a godmum playdate?  Especially when it involves sombrero hats, penguin binoculars, lab coats and accessorising!

6. Stargazing

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Have you been following CBeebies Stargazing this week?  My mini astronauts are both intrigued by it – especially loving Robert the Robot’s involvement – so it’s one we’ll be looking up again on the iPlayer.

7. Playdate

We had another playdate at the beginning of this week for the first time with a girl Luke particularly gets on with nursery.  Willow was voluminously sick, Faith was on a constant feed and Luke kept distracting the girl from playing with the (unhealthy because we hadn’t done any shopping at the weekend) snacks I’d packed for the walk home.  It remains to be seen whether her mother will contact us again…

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Sunday Sevens #2

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my second entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

  1. PuddleometerMaking a Splash

We found these wellie boots for Willow secondhand when she was attracted to the monkeys on the side and have only just noticed the rather fabulous puddleometer on the backs.

Stocking.jpg2. Christmas is coming

I’ve had several conversations with Luke about Christmas recently. Because, you know, it’s March, you’ve got to be prepared.  His main concern, prompted by finding this mini stocking, seems to be that Faith needs a stocking too which is really sweet so I’ll let him off.  But I’ll also make sure we do a better job of clearing every single last piece of Christmas paraphernalia away properly this year.

3. New reading material

WBD 3

We finally had time to spend our World Book Day tokens this week, popping into Lindum Books in the Bailgate in Lincoln quickly whilst on our way to a playdate.  Luke chose Peppa Loves World Book Day, Willow’s choice was Everyone Loves Underpants and we decided to get the Where’s Wally title too for daddy to share with Faith.

SarahDuckHotelWe were also given a copy of Sarah & Duck Stay at the Duck Hotel by one of Willow’s godmums.  After reading this several times in quick succession, Luke was so determined to visit the Duck Hotel himself he and Willow started packing their Trunkis in preparation.  Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel where there’s a slide directly connection your room to the swimming pool?

4. #BookEngland

I took part in a Twitter # hour hosted by Brit Mums and Visit England this week focusing on the literary holidays the country has to offer to staycationers.  #BookEngland was a delightful conversation with fellow reading enthusiasts and reminded me of places I’d already been pre-minis that I’d like to go back to with them, as well as suggesting new places to go.  Seven Stories in Newcastle, The World of Beatrix Potter, Swallows and Amazons locations were just a few.  Through the tweets I also discovered that Lincolnshire’s Belton House is hosting a Moondial exhibition this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the publication of Helen Cresswell’s novel.  And now, through a friend’s Facebook page, I’ve also discovered there’s The Story Museum in Oxford which looks fab and is another one to add to the list!

5. Viral interview

I don’t believe anyone can have failed to see the BBC interview where South Korea expert Professor Robert Kelly was upstaged by his family antics.  If you’ve been living under the proverbial rock this week then Google it – it’s hilarious and endearing.  But also make sure to check out some of their follow up interviews as they highlight what such a lovely family they seem to be in slightly less panicked circumstances.  Isn’t it nice that the chaos of ordinary family life has stolen the headlines at least for a few days?  And I’m sure a few of us know a lot more about the situation in Korea than we otherwise would have…

6. Road signs 

roundaboutLuke’s nursery asked us to take photos of road signs when we’re out and about as his group expressed an interest in what they mean whilst they were taking part in another activity.  This was two or three weeks ago.  We’re still taking photos of road signs now.  It’s nice that he’s taking his homework seriously but our March 2017 family photo albums are going to look a little weird…

7. The Mini Malpi blog on tour

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Many thanks to Sarah Hogan who is in the process of launching The Mummy’s Movement for featuring my blog Loving a designer label as a guest blog on her website.

“Being a busy Mum can be a bit isolating sometimes and we don’t want you to feel like that anymore.  Join The Mummy’s Movement” she writes on the Facebook group – and you’re all welcome to join too!

And don’t forget World Down’s Syndrome Day is on Tuesday!

 

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