F is for Faith (…and fuchsia)

IMG_9579Every mother knows that her own children are gorgeous but it’s always nice to hear it confirmed by other people too.

And it was lovely to hear that a photo I shared of Faith on @TheMiniMalpi Twitter account caught the attention of the artist behind Bertie Bear Button Art and Crafts.

Designing and hand making personalised artwork with buttons, Sarah from Kirton Lindsey in North Lincolnshire, offered to send Faith her own individually designed initial art frame and, as you can see, she was very pleased with the finished piece.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons – I love words and letters, button is a term of endearment I often use for all three of my minis and it’s always lovely to have something personalised and individual appropriate to your unique child.

And the frame lived up to those expectations too.  The natural wooden frame can be freestanding or hung on a wall and came very securely padded in a mailing box surviving two deliveries in our case as a neighbour was kind enough to receive it for us when we missed the postman.

The mix of buttons sizes, shapes and shades is lovely and I like the 3D dimension to the nature of the craft.  I think most parents would love the heart button but, as Faith is currently waiting for a heart operation, it has extra significance to us and I like its prominent placing.  There is a bow button, flowers and the butterfly would definitely currently be a winner with Faith’s older sister.

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The frames currently come in either pink or blue.  I’m quite a fan of using other colours too and Sarah says this is something she’d consider in the future although it’s understandable why those two colours are the mainstays in her button stash.  Plus when I was trying to think of a colour that begins with f as well I just came up with fuchsia anyway!

I’m sure it will make a lovely feature to her bedroom wall for years to come.

As well as initials, Sarah’s designs also include a family tree, ballerina, heart, the words home and love and an apple perfect for a teacher thank you present.  Find out more at Bertie Bear Button Art.

If you’d like a unique letter button frame made for your mini one or would like to buy any of her artworks as a gift then Sarah is offering The Mini Malpi readers 25% off their order.   Use the code THEMINIMALPI25 in her Etsy store at to claim your discount.  And we’d love to see your photos of your little one with their own art piece too so don’t forget to tweet us @TheMiniMalpi.

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

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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!

 

SundaySevens

 

 

On the third weekend of Christmas…

Remembering the fun of last weekend is helping soothe the disappointment of a cancelled operation for my son today.

As well as not one, not two, but three Christmas parties at various children’s groups the mini ones attend, they also accompanied us for an annual seasonal meal out with friends last Saturday.

Sitting still for any length of time isn’t their forte but gifts of Disney character toys, children’s activity packs from the restaurant based on We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, an ice cream desert and our own bear hunt exploration around the building after the meal helped stave off any significant displays of boredom.

 

The following day we headed to Wyndham Park in Grantham for its Christmas in the Park celebration where, for the mini ones, Christmas seemed to be marked in a similar way to at the Lincoln Christmas Market – this time with bouncy castle fun and a teacup fairground ride.

But Luke soon also benefited from another’s display of festive friendship when an older boy tried helping him up the bouncy slide he was having problems climbing.  They were quite determined together which was so lovely of the other child (don’t you just love how children can make friends anywhere they go within seconds?) but ultimately it was still a little beyond my small four-year-old’s legs.  Maybe he’ll be able to climb that mountain of bouncy, slippery steps next time Santa’s in town.

And it did mean Christmas does still include helping others as well as enjoying amusement rides.

On the second weekend of Christmas…

Christmas was put on hold at the start of last weekend in favour of all things second birthday related.

I can’t believe Willow is already 2!

She’s fairly sure she’s already 14 and certainly approves of presents and cake so is sure to be looking forward to many more birthdays to come but such occasions always make me want to grab hold of the earth and slow it down a little, keep my mini ones mini a bit longer.

Time has gone even faster with Willow than with Luke, I fear if we blink we’ll open our eyes to our third baby’s 18th birthday.

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We didn’t have to think too hard about what to treat her to and her new kitchen seems to have gone down very well so far – just as well considering the furniture moving it took to fit it in.  Fortunately the size of it has meant that brother and sister have been able to share it relatively amicably so far too.  Hopefully, as soon as their legs allow, they’ll be replicating what they’re currently practising for real in the kitchen behind that wall.  Luke’s insistence on doing some baking in the last couple of days has given me hope (as well as fairy cakes)!

santalukeSunday included more presents for Willow from friends and family but also featured Christmas in large again as we took part in the Lincoln Santa Fun Run.

Daddy has done it in the past on his own but last year we did it as a family for the first time.  Despite it being just a little bit of a stretch too far in the end (Finishing last didn’t stop it being a fun run) it was clear that this type of event is very much Luke’s thing.

This year the excitement started early as we tried their Santa outfits on to make sure they still fitted ahead of the race, and told them that grandmum, grandma and pops would be joining us this time too, and we had to keep reiterating that it wasn’t going to take place that day (or the next…).

santa2aFortunately his enthusiasm hadn’t waned when the day came and it made a mummy’s heart swell to see him in his element skipping, spinning and ho ho ho-ing leading our way to the starting line.

And what a difference a year makes to a mini one.  Managing to determinedly walk most of the way in 2015 scraping through at the end as they were packing up, 2016 saw him run three quarters of the way with daddy, arriving well within the melee reaching for their water bottles and impressive medals.

2016 and Daddy saw him run it anyway – this mummy carrying a two year old on her back and sporting a 32-week pregnant tummy on her front was quite happy to take a more ambling approach, taking in the atmosphere and all the fun variants people made to their, their children’s and their dogs’ costumes.

Willow, a very savvy lass, took an even more relaxed approach to the event, deciding once again to sleep through most of it, preserving her energy for further present opening and cake eating in the afternoon.

As well as last year’s and this year’s Santa Run, she’s also slept through last year’s Race for Life and was in the womb for the year before’s – she’s definitely worked out the best way to complete these events.

As a family we’ve also taken part in a Sports Relief Mile and it would be lovely to find more family-friendly events like these where we can indulge Luke’s need for speed with an added bit of spectacle.

We ran out of weekend quickly too which means we still haven’t started most of our Christmas shopping or fetched the decorations down from the attic let alone put them up – but there’s still two weekends left aren’t there…?

Christmas-inspired reads for your seasonal shopping list

Trying to decide what the “something to read” item of your children’s want, need, wear and read Christmas list should be this year?  Gill Hart from Lincoln independent book shop Lindum Books suggests a few of her favourites…

a-boy-called-christmasA Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig (Canongate, £6.99 paperback, 9781782118268)

A magical Christmas story for children of all ages from Matt Haig, best known for his adult fiction and as the author of Reasons to Stay Alive, his recent best-selling memoir about anxiety and depression. This is the story of a little boy called Nikolas who grows up to be Father Christmas. The jacket tells us; “You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas. If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. (Because this book is FULL of impossible things.) Are you still reading? Good. Then let us begin…” The illustrations by Chris Mould bring Nikolas and his friends to life perfectly. It’s an evergreen story that will be enjoyed by grownups as well as children and is likely to become part of family tradition to be read every Christmas

the-girl-who-saved-christmasThe Girl who Saved Christmas – Matt Haig (Canongate, £12.99 hardback, 9781782118572)

Following the story of A Boy Called Christmas, Matt Haig brings us the story of Victorian chimney sweep, Amelia. When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas. But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeer dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled. But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl, as Father Christmas is going to find out. If Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone.

little-grey-rabbits-christmasLittle Grey Rabbit’s Christmas –Alison Uttley (Templar publishing, £5.99 hardback, 9781783706723)

If you are looking for something more traditional, this is a beautiful little gift book to keep for many Christmases to come. Since publication of the first Little Grey Rabbit book in 1929, the series has become a classic of children’s literature, capturing the hearts of many. The popularity of Alison Uttley’s magical stories and Margaret Tempest’s lively illustrations meant that generations of children grew up with Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Hare, Moldy Warp and little Fuzzypeg. These lovely versions of four favourite original titles will bring the world of Little Grey Rabbit to a new generation.

squishy-mcfluff-secret-santaSquishy McFluff: Secret Santa – Pip Jones (Faber, £5.99 paperback, 9780571302567)

A lovely little Christmas story about Ava and her cat Squishy.  Pip Jones continues to give her quirky twist to everyday experiences in this warm and humorous series. The jaunty rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud and Ella Okstad’s gorgeous, distinctive illustrations will help more confident readers learn to read by themselves for the first time.

Call Lindum Books in Lincoln’s Bailgate on 01522 262374 for further information.

On the first weekend of Christmas…

It’s not often you get the chance to see teddy bears dancing on the side of houses, giant luminous fish tanks and robotic musical dancing exhibits in someone’s front garden whilst roaming the streets of Lincoln so if you want to take advantage of our city residents’ creativity on a winter’s evening stroll than the West End Lights is definitely the time to do it.

Marking the start of our seasonal celebrations, we were introduced to “Lincoln’s home-grown night of light when ordinary people do something extraordinary” a couple of years ago by a friend who lives in the area and, not least because it’s “powered entirely by volunteers”, the artistic efforts that people go to and their outcomes are outstanding.

The dancing teddy bears were definitely Willow’s favourite – watching her jigging up and down with them dressed in a teddy bear coat certainly won it a soft spot with her mummy too – and Luke was loving the whole very convivial atmosphere and spotting every light show going.

Sadly I had forgotten to take the sling with me and my 31-week pregnant back was only capable of carrying a tired little one reluctant to be held by anyone else so far so we had to cut our visit shorter than we would have liked but hopefully we’ll be back next year with appropriate transportation to see what wonderful sights are conjured up next time.

Fuelled by our enjoyment of the West End Lights we decided to overcome our worries of crowded cobbles and take in all the Lincoln Christmas Market had to offer on the Sunday.  The daytime atmosphere can’t match what we remember of the nighttime trips we used to make but being able to see which direction the mini ones run off in is always preferable.

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And all that the market has to offer is certainly a different prospect all round (and a more expensive one) when you attend with a couple of mini ones whose highlights include the helter skelter, little vehicle ride and the pick up a penguin stand (think hook-a-duck).

But they definitely enjoyed their time, mummy enjoyed eating some fudge and daddy got to have a sip of mulled wine too – purely for its warming benefits of course.

We still haven’t actually started our Christmas shopping yet though…

Santa’s Workshop designed to welcome annual event’s younger guests

fandg4When you’ve enjoyed going to an event in your pre-parenting days it’s always nice to think you might still be able to attend it even if you have some mini ones in tow.

So it’s especially heartening when the organisers themselves recognise the value in making sure they lay out a welcome for all the family.

One such event extending its offering to its younger guests is the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair at the Lincolnshire Showground.

2016’s event is taking place from 9am to 4pm on November 26th and 27th and brings together more than 150 exhibitors, festive entertainment from choir groups and cookery demonstrations from top local chefs and producers.

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But this year also sees the launch of a brand new children’s craft and activity area called Santa’s Workshop.

“Here, children can get hands-on with craft activities including Christmas cards and decorations, writing their letter to Father Christmas, making melting snowmen biscuits and reindeer food and sitting down to see talented storytellers relay an animated version of the popular Stick Man book – plus much more!” says Showground marketing manager Rachel Hurst.

fandg1“And for the first time, Santa himself will be at the Fair, ready with his impressive sleigh to meet with children.”

Ruddocks of Lincoln will be helping children to create festive tree decorations and gifts to take home.  Rhiannon Wilkinson, from Ruddocks, said: “We want the younger shopper to enjoy the entertainment while gaining a new skill.

“With Ruddocks of Lincoln, visitors can personalise their Christmas tree this year by creating handmade tree toppers, decorations, make their own crowns and write a letter to Father Christmas, posting it in our special Christmas post box.”

Tickets for the annual event, held across two indoor halls and with free car parking, are on sale now for £5 in advance or £6 on the day. Under 16s go free with an adult.

Call the ticket line on 01522 522900 or visit www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk.