Friday, 31 August 2012

First day of school pictures

Many moons ago when my daughter was sweet and lovely, her first day of school picture was this cute:

Now she's older, beautiful, full of attitude and threatening to make this the last year that I can take a first day of school picture, she looks like this:

Welcome to Year 5 :-)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Back to school preparations: Getting the right shoes

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September is just around the corner, and we all know what an expense and hassle it can be to get your kids back to school with everything they need. A lot of schools will have a standard uniform, so getting the clothes they need should be relatively straight forward – but getting the right shoes that fit your child can be trickier. On the one hand you don’t want to spend lots of money as the likelihood is your child will grow out of them very quickly. But on the other hand, you don’t want to buy too cheaply and end up with a child with sore feet. There are a few things you can do to make life easier when searching for new shoes for your child.

If your child doesn’t deal well with shopping, it might be best to go to a retailer who specialise in children’s shoes – and do some research first by picking out some shoes online with your child. Take the list of shoes you’ve found online into the shop and have your child try them on – this is much easier than trailing round the shop trying to find something suitable without knowing what there is available. The benefit of going to a childrenswear retailer is that the staff will be experienced with children being a little difficult, and they will be able to give great advice on the best shoes available.

Get feet measured
Another benefit of visiting a retailer who specialise in children’s shoes is that they can measure your child’s feet. A lot of shops now let you book a fitting appointment, so you’re not waiting round on a busy Saturday afternoon. Getting feet measured is essential when buying new shoes, in order to ensure your child isn’t uncomfortable in their new footwear. Ill fitting shoes worn over a long period of time can actually cause future problems with walking and posture – so getting it right is vital. It’s best to try on shoes in the afternoon as feet swell during the day – so this will ensure the shoes still fit your child comfortably after a busy day.

Styles of shoes
Many different shoe brands for girls and boys will have a variety of styles to choose from.  But for the best support, it’s better to go for shoes that fasten up with laces, Velcro or buckles in comparison to a slip on shoe. Also check the soles of the shoes to make sure they have enough grip for when kids will be running around – this will help prevent them from slipping over. There are many cute shoe styles that your child will be able to wear in and out of school – versatility is important, especially if you’re buying a quality pair of shoes.

These tips might make life easier in the back to school rush that always happens around the beginning of September!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Back to School with Tesco

As I'm sure you know, this blogging lark definitely has it perks. We've been to places and done things that just would never have been possible without this blog but actually what really helps is some of the day to day stuff that we get sent to review.

For the third year in a row we've been lucky enough to be sent a school uniform bundle from the lovely people at Tesco. As I've mentioned before, Chick is a massive fan of shopping for anything school wear and/or stationery! She starts before she has even broken up for Summer by going through the new season school wear and circling everything that she might like before we then come to some agreement about how much money I'll actually spend. Tesco sent us this gorgeous bundle:

I generally buy Chick's uniform from Tesco as not only is it reasonable but everything washes well and if I buy the correct sizes then it tends to last for the whole school year. The only thing that Chick is really hard on is shoes and it doesn't matter where we buy them from she manages to ruin every pair!!

As Chick is quite tall for her age we struggle to find skirts and trousers that fit her in the length and in the waist but this year they've definitely come up trumps with this jersey number:

Tesco also sent us this beautiful coat which I absolutely love and is something that I would definitely spend good money on. It's very heavy and looks and feels much more expensive than it is:

They even sent some bits to keep her amused during the holidays:

I'll keep you posted with a picture of Chick on her first day back at school :-)

A huge thank you to Tesco for sending us another great bundle. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Sport in Schools and the Olympic Legacy

You know it's funny but before the Olympics this last couple of weeks, I'd never realised quite how little Sport is played in school. Obviously I'd read in the Daily Fail Mail about the playing fields being sold off and that it's low down the pecking order on the curriculum but the fact that it's only suggested as part of the curriculum for 2 hours a week is a little odd......although I'm not sure how they'd fit more hours in!!

I've never been particularly sporty and sports for me once I'd reached secondary school was all kinds of hell (I still think we should separate boys and girls PE but that's a whole 'nother post!!) but I still think it should be encouraged. We got to try a whole range of sports and although for me the only thing that I ever did well in was Cross Country running, it gave my brothers a whole different aspect to life, especially one of them who has made Sport his career.

This last couple of weeks I've read lots of things on Twitter and in the press about the lack of sports in school that surprises me. I bring this up as I'd never realised quite how lucky Chick is with our choice of school and holiday club. Her school does the mandatory 2 hours of PE each week but they also have extra curricular activities every lunchtime and 4 afternoons a week. You do have to pay for them but they're about £2 a week! Also her Teacher is amazing and last year introduced something that she calls 'Jumpstart'. It basically involves getting all the kids for 15 minutes in a morning and completing a mini-aerobics routine. The kids get to choose the music and come up with some of the moves so are very involved in making it fun.

The kids LOVE it! They see it as a fun activity and something that gets them going for the day. What they don't realise is that it helps them to concentrate, gets their hearts pumping and helps them with rhythm and routine. I think it's the number 1 reason that Chick is thrilled to be moving up with her Teacher!! They even *shock horror* still have an element of competitive sport!!

I'm hoping that between this and Chick spending her weekends watching me/her uncles & aunties competing in Marathons and Triathlons that she will consider being active a part of normal life and not a chore and that she will enjoy being active and healthy.

Chick's after school & holiday club is lucky enough to have links with Loughborough University College so they often have athletes or trainee sportspeople/coaches getting involved in their sessions. Yesterday they had an Olympic themed day and Chick was on 'Team Bradley Wiggins' (much to her disappointment as she wanted to be on 'Team Jessica Ennis'!!! lol). They made banners & t-shirts and completed a mini-heptathlon. Guess who won the Gold medal????

As I'm still recovering from my Op and only able to do stuff in 10 minute blocks we haven't been able to get out and about much but in an attempt to keep Chick inspired about the Olympics we've bought a sticker book and are collecting the stickers.....not sure who's most excited about this but it's informative and fun (yes, I do need to get out more!!):

I really hope that schools and the government capitalise on these games and help more youngsters get active and enjoy sports. Chick has decided that she want to be an Olympian at Gymnastic Trampolining so we'll be at lessons every Saturday afternoon for the next 8 years in preparation :-)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Think Like a Kid to Keep Your Toddler Entertained During Summer Break

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Young children love having time with their grown-ups. The key to keeping the time pleasant and productive is to stay engaged with the kid. Pick some activities you both can enjoy to make the most of this time. Use the child’s natural curiosity and high energy to propel both you and the child through each day’s adventures. This is amazingly easy with ten steps to help you think like a kid.
  1. Go someplace special, like your own back yard. This doesn’t require an investment in expensive tickets. Simply explore the possibilities in front of you. Look for three pretty stones together, or try to find four funny sticks. See how many different kinds of leaves or flowers you can gather. This is a great math readiness lesson and a lot of fun.

  2. See who is creeping through the grass or wiggling around under the ground. Look for ants, worms and other friendly creepy-crawlies. Poke holes in the top of a jar and put a specimen or two inside for a closer look. Don’t forget to release the reluctant guest after an hour or two.

Do you have grass? If the child is awake when the stars come out, lie down in the grass and look at the sky together. Try this first thing in the morning, before the sun climbs too high and hot.
  1. Use the sticks, flowers, leaves and stones for a creativity session. Children are born creative and need to have this side of their personalities encouraged and nurtured. Use a piece of cardboard or paper and some nontoxic craft glue to create a collage of found treasures. Or dip the finds in nontoxic paint and use them for stamps. Let the child explore his own ideas of what to do with his finds.
Young children like to engage in parallel play with their grown-ups. Encourage the child’s efforts by sitting next to him and making your own creation. The most important thing is to enjoy the activity together without trying to over-direct. The point to a young child’s art activity is the doing, not the product.
  1. Talk about what you are doing and what the child is doing. Don’t ask what his efforts represent. Instead, talk about the colors and shapes. “Oh, you used red in your picture” or “I see the circle you made” will invite his own comments. Avoid value judgments such as “This is pretty,” and don’t try to guess what the picture represents. Let the child tell you if he chooses.
Talking about what you see, hear and feel is an important component of the way a parent relates with a child. Even a trip to the grocery store can become a learning and play activity when the adult talks about the experience. Ask open-ended questions or say “I wonder...” to pique curiosity. “Why are these apples red?” “I wonder how the beans got in the can.”
  1. Keep sessions short. Most little kids have brief attention spans and will soon need to move on to another activity. Have a wide variety of possibilities ready to explore with the child.
  1. Keep moving. Toddlers have a lot of energy and like to be active. Play games like “Let’s walk like inchworms” or “How could you walk like a duck?” to spark creative movement.
    Practice physical challenges on the local playground, making sure the equipment is safe and sturdy first. Try walking on a balance beam close to the ground. Challenge the child to cross the monkey bars or climb the ladder for a low slide. See how fast he can run from point A to point B.
  1. Wind down with quieter activities. Make play dough together from a simple recipe found on the Internet. This presents a good opportunity for a simple and quick lesson on measuring. See what happens if you mix two kinds of food color, such as blue and yellow or blue and red.
  1. Puzzle it out. Choose a simple puzzle to work with the child. Let him place all the pieces, but provide a little verbal help when required.
  1. Never argue with a tired child. It’s usually easy to tell when the child becomes tired or over-stimulated. If this happens, just take some time to cuddle. Look at a picture book together. Give him his favorite lovey toy for some down time.
Making summer vacation a special time to spend with the child will provide memories for the years to come. Keep it simple and fun, and the child will enjoy learning and playing with you. The time will pass too quickly. Enjoy it while you can by planning simple activities to enjoy together.

About the Author: Brianna Kelly has over 5 years experience publishing articles on childcare education and parenting. She writes on a regular basis for Giraffe Childcare Dublin, who has 18 locations based in Dublin, Ireland.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The Man's Birthday & Relaxation

Last weekend it was my lovely man's birthday. Originally we had a hot date with Champagne & Afternoon Tea at The Ritz but I didn't want to go to The Ritz with a half shaved head and being (more) unbalanced!! Instead we were very lucky to be offered the use of a friend's cabin. As you probably know from previous posts the cabin is one of my favourite places. It's only about 4 miles away from where we live but it's so relaxing that it feels just like being on holiday:

On Friday night we had a meal at the pub down the road and then came back and watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which for the main part was fab!! Saturday we mainly relaxed all day, had afternoon naps, watched the river go by and then 'the man' got the Bar-B-Q going:

As it was his birthday we thought that we'd better celebrate and bought him presents and a Spiderman cake:

For his main present, I'm taking him here for the weekend in September:

Eeeeek! How very exciting and yes I do get brownie points for being an amazing girlfriend ;-) Let's hope this weekend is just as relaxing!