Family photographer captures our mini monsters perfectly

I can’t be the only family blogger who dreads her kids acting up when being asked to link up with someone.

When Adrian Rowan of A. Rowan Photo contacted The Mini Malpi to suggest a Halloween-themed photo shoot I jumped at the chance.

Based on Luke’s current giggly enthusiasm for all things Halloween and his posing skills developed during Lincoln Fashion Week and well honed in the following months, what could go wrong?!

Having been to see Justin Fletcher Live in the morning probably didn’t help Luke’s over-excitement levels and Willow was also feeling decidedly floppy after all the dancing and car journey and, with one being uncooperative and one being incredibly clingy, I was beginning to wonder if we’d wasted the photographer’s time.

But she quickly proved her skills as a family photographer coercing Luke into playing with her through the use of bubbles and he was soon keen to try out his different costumes and play around for the camera having great fun running around Hartsholme Park and exuberantly kicking through the leaves at the same time.

Willow was feeling the cold (although resolutely refusing to put her coat on) as well as being tired and clingy but in the end it was daddy’s decision not to be left out on the costume front that made Willow eager to join in too.

I love all the shots she took of both of them but am particularly impressed by the ones she managed to capture of Willow given her mood for most of the session, from the cutest of little smiles to the picture above that makes me wonder what she’s thinking of turning us all into!

If you’d like to capture some memories with your own mini monsters then Adrian is running more Halloween Mini Photo Sessions on Sunday, October 30th, at Hartsholme Park from 10am to 2pm.  Booking is essential.  Click here for further information.

As well as preserving some precious moments you’ll have lots of fun doing it!


Sold out success for Justin Live

justinliveYou know you must be at the epitome of your career when, as a comedian, you can simply stand still on stage and have your audience in fits of laughter and, as an entertainer, your listeners are so keen to join in with you, you can easily get them to finish off all your songs for you.

Star of several CBeebies shows including Something Special, Justin’s House and Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher is an idol for pre-schoolers across the country and so it’s unsurprising that the two performances of his latest stage show that were hosted by Grimsby Auditorium on Sunday were both completely sold out.

Those of us who managed to secure tickets were richly rewarded with a high-energy spectacle with a pantomime atmosphere that included confetti canons, water blasters, circus skills, slapstick comedy, audience interaction and even an appearance from Nellie the Elephant (which earned extra special applause from Willow who was transfixed throughout the show).

Nursery rhymes, original songs, pop favourites and even a jive number meant there was a choice for everyone musically and many of those lucky enough to have parents who booked far enough ahead to secure seats in the stalls (unlike Luke and Willow who were looking down from the balcony) even had the opportunity to have a dance with Justin as he made his way through the audience on a several occasions.

We weren’t sure whether Justin’s “close friend” Mr Tumble would be making appearance or not but Willow obviously has more faith in his magic, calling for him near the end of the interval and sure enough her call was soon answered as the star waistcoat-ed hero cycled onto stage on his mini bicycle to Let Me Entertain You at the start of the second half.  And, five custard pies later, Luke was most definitely entertained.

I think we can safely say that both Willow and Luke loved the show, finishing dancing along to the finale songs next to their seats and, as daddy paid a quick visit to the merchandise stall to buy  CD on the way out, they kept on dancing in the car to Justin’s singing most of the way back to Lincoln until exhaustion finally overcame their excitement.

If you are better at booking ahead than we are you might be interested to know that Justin will be returning to the north of the county next year.  Justin’s Party will take place at The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe on Saturday, April 1st, 2017. 


Lincoln Loves Kids!

lincolnloveskids2It’s half term already!

Are you a parent who can’t wait for the start of the holidays or who dreads the sound of the school bell tolling to signal the suspension of classes?

The mini ones are still too small for the academic year to have truly imprinted itself on our lives as yet, although some of their activities are effected, but we know exactly what it’s like to need to find entertainment to keep little hands busy.

If our It’s Halloween season! event listing isn’t comprehensive enough for you, or you’d really like to find a few things non-Halloweeny to occupy your children with, then you might want to pick up a new source of information on “family-friendly activities and experiences” in the city which has recently been produced by Visit Lincoln, Lincoln Mums and Lincolnshire County Council’s heritage services.

“Lincoln Loves Kids 2016-17 is packed with information about what’s on in the area, from visitor attractions, to natural spaces, to classes and services locally, including where to use your Lincoln Mums card of course!” says Lincoln Mums’ Emma Crellin.

“There is also a kids’ eye view of what’s on offer and my own editor’s picks of local highlights.”

An initial print run of 15,000 copies has been distributed throughout the area, including to all Visit Lincoln and Lincoln Mums partners.  The guide includes sections such as History Hunters, Stage & Story and All Get Moving.

There’s also a page of money saving vouchers and a competition (deadline November 25th) to win a Festive Family Break in December which includes tickets to a performance of the already sold out The Snowman at Lincoln Cathedral, so it’s definitely worth picking up a copy if you see one when you’re out and about.

I’d love to know where you like to find out about things happening in and around your area?  The local newspaper, radio, Facebook, Twitter, venue leaflet racks, from other parents?  Leave me a comment below or tweet me @TheMiniMalpi

Storytime invites listeners to Come Fly With Me

roomonthebroomjdRoom on the Broom, Julia Donaldson’s tale of helpful friends, has long been my favourite of The Gruffalo author’s excellent rhyming canon – I could even do a fairly accurate rendition at one point.

So, when Willow and I arrived for October’s storytime at Lindum Books in Lincoln’s Bailgate, I was delighted to discover that the witch and her cat were to be the focus of the morning’s event.

Led by Rhubarb Theatre’s Kirsty Mead, this brand of storytelling uses the original text as a launchpad for its own dramatic interpretation with the emphasis heavily on interaction.

With a musical introduction to the session including doing the Hocus Pocus (think “Hokey Cokey” with a magical twist), Kirsty had her young audience searching pumpkin clues, trying on a range of hats (Willow donned gnome/Santa headgear), playing with scarves and practicing their wand skills before inviting them to “Come Fly With Me” as she zoomed around the shop on her broom (much to all the following children’s delight including Willow) making full use of the book shop’s limited floor space.

After everyone banded together to help scare away the dragon we headed up the store’s stairs to take part in a craft activity that included using a glue stick – currently one of Willow’s favourite activities.

Hopefully we’ll be able to fly up the hill again soon to share another tale brought to life in such an entertaining fashion.

Storytime at Lindum Books takes place monthly and the next event is on Tuesday, November 8th.  Booking is essential.  Call 01522 262374.


A monsterously good time with Monstersaurus

monstersaurus2“Monty LOVES inventing,
BUT things don’t always work…”

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s characterful tale Monstersaurus (Simon and Schuster, £5.99) has long been a favourite in our house so when I saw there was a stage show adaptation by Big Wooden Horse and it was coming to Terry O’Toole Theatre it was definitely a date to go into the diary and The Mini Malpi were delighted to be a guest of the North Hykeham theatre for the 3pm show on Saturday.

With a set that was bedecked with everything a young inventor could want – magnifying glass, specimen bottles, a bubble machine, instruction books and, of course, an inventing machine – it was interesting to see how the theatre company would adapt and expand on its fun source material.

monstersaurus3Lively puppets, energetic songs and dances (in case you’re wondering, Monstersaurus rhymes with chorus) and disgusting ingredients supplied by some audience participation saw us introduced to Monty’s mum, an expanded timeline, a language all “swampy, green and wobbly” Bogablob’s own, a comprehensive back story covering Dust Monster’s origins (but not the title character’s due to a “sensitive family history”), a diamond geezer version of the main monster that’s sure to have changed a few parental storytime renditions following the show and a glimpse into the best friends’ future travel adventures.

I was in proud, smug-mummy mode to start with as my four-year -old son chose to sit on his own on the front benches the theatre put out for children’s shows for the first time.  He’s not great at sitting still but the show had him riveted, if not to the actual seat, to a defined space around it.

monstersaurus4And it was lovely to be able to watch from above his very physical reactions to what was happening on stage, bouncing up and down with excitement along with Monty’s enthusiasm, laughing at and pointing to things that caught his attention, turning round on one occasion to highlight to us his enjoyment and concentration (“Luke-y watching”) and jumping to the floor behind the bench and back over as each monster was explosively introduced (note to self: must move the sofas away from the wall so there’s space to hide behind them when he’s old enough to be introduced to Doctor Who!)

Advertised for age 3+, my 22-month-old daughter was also fully engaged with the show, joining in the clapping at all appropriate times, both as applause and along with the beat of the songs.

Of course, as with all smug-mummy moments, they only last for a certain length of time.  But this time, my son’s quickly unravelling behaviour was for the sweetest of reasons – and quite an appropriate one too.  “Monty cheered, I’VE MADE A FRIEND… A MEGA MONSTER ONE!” near the end of the book and Luke too found a friend in the (very non-monstrous) five-year-old he was sat next to and whose family member we were sat near to as well.

monstersaurus5It’s so lovely how children can just make friends so instantly and, whilst not necessarily obvious at first glance, they were still very focused on events unfolding on the stage, adorably copying the actions of Monty and Monstersaurus between them as they flew off on an adventure.   But, as the new friends’ enjoyment and reenactments became increasingly spirited, we were also quite relieved when the actors took their final bows and we were all able to leave on a high with no calming intervention required (just).

With the book’s final line reading “What fun did they get up to? YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE…” all we need now is Claire Freedman to pen the sequel and hope that Big Wooden Horse would bring their further adventures to life on stage too as we’d certainly be doing our “Saturday dance” and booking seats (along with the space around them!)

Missed Monstersaurus at the TOTT?  Click here for further tour dates elsewhere.

More children’s theatre coming up at the Terry O’Toole Theatre includes:
Granny’s Game by Rhubarb Theatre, November 19th
Lily and the Little Snow Bear by Blunderbus, December 17th


Working hard? #TakeABreak

swordandtrowelYou don’t need to sell the idea of taking a break to the parents of mini ones – they just often can’t.

So why any worker would willingly skip their lunch breaks if they don’t need to seems questionable.

But a recent study by Bupa found that only 1 in 3 workers take their allocated lunch break and 45 per cent of these workers took their break at their desks.

And, of course, pre-minis, I often used to be one of those tied-to-my-desk type people too.  What was I thinking?!

The benefit of having two little people no longer entitling you to lunch breaks, needing entertaining and being a one-car household so often walking to and from children’s activities, is that we all get lots of fresh air and parks are often on our itineraries.

swordandtrowel2And exploring outdoor spaces could be boosting our creativity according to a campaign by bookkeeping company Sword & Trowel.  (And my minis are definitely creative so they can certainly attest to that).

Director of operations at Sword and Trowel Dimitrios Alafouzos asks: “Do you always take your hour lunch break? We want to encourage local business owners to support their staff to take a break and get outdoors. We are lucky to have many open spaces on our doorstep and it has been proven that by getting out in the fresh air, creativity increases and employees’ overall mood improves.”

And they further encourage people to #TakeABreak by quoting Kimberly Elsbach from the University of California – “We know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment” – and The American Psychological Association that found that walking increases participant’s creativity by 81 per cent.

So, even if you are a hardened workaholic or feel pressure from managers or colleagues to put your workplace before your own health and wellbeing, it’s clear there’s plenty of work-related reasons to #TakeABreak too.

Find out more here: #TakeABreak – and don’t forget to share a photo of your midday stroll with @SandTbookkeep and @TheMiniMalpi!


Will #bookshopday be a Blustery Day?

bambpoohAhead of Books Are My Bag’s Bookshop Day on Saturday 8th October, Gill Hart from Lindum Books in Bailgate, Lincoln, is ready to celebrate along with a new nonagenarian…

Winnie the Pooh, celebrates an important anniversary this year, it being 90 years since A. A. Milne wrote the very first Pooh story.

In all that time Pooh has made a special place for himself in the hearts of many generations of readers of all ages.

His apparently simple sayings and words of wisdom remain in our minds long after we have grown up!

Whether we first met Pooh through the original books or the Disney movie, at this time of year who doesn’t at some time remember A Rather Blustery Day?

A Rather Blustery Day
Hum, dum, dum, dee, dee, dum
Hum, dum, dum
Oh the wind is lashing lusterly
And the trees are thrashing thrusterly
And the leaves are rustling gusterly
So it’s rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
It seems that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today

bamblogoThis year to celebrate Bookshop Day on Saturday 8th October, Books Are My Bag, a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops, has chosen Winnie the Pooh to feature on their special limited edition children’s tote bag. We will have the bags in Lindum Books on Saturday as long as stocks last, free with purchases of £15 or more on children’s books.

(There will also be bags for grownups! These will be; the Books Are My Bag Tote – free with a purchase of £15 or more or to buy at £2.99, and the limited edition Coralie Bickford-Smith Tote – free with a purchase of £25 or more or to buy at £10.99).

Visit Books Are My Bag and Lindum Books for further information.