A Strong Coffee

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Where Has The Time Gone?

end of year one photo

As the summer holidays are finally upon us, it draws me into a reflective mode. I can hardly believe that big man has completed Year One. It seems like yesterday that my baby had started reception. I was worried about him making friends. Not being able to read or write anything but his name. I am proud to say that he has come on in leaps and bounds and really is his own little person who is excited and intrigued by life. My worries now have turned into how I am going to take him to his friends birthday parties and what will happen when he reads the "I believe in Santa" signs at Christmas. I mean why wouldn't you!?!

I also get a little upset. Another year has passed me by so quickly. It is only a year until he leaves infants. I think a picture of the wall chart will be necessary on his last day. I am hoping that he has done some growing.

height chart at school

This year middle man starts in reception too. How has that happened? I do worry about how he will cope with 5 full days but I know deep down he will be fine.

So what have I learnt whist big man has been at school?

Firstly, it is always a good idea to buy the correct sized clothing. I can laugh about it now, but I was pretty upset when I thought that big man would start on his first day without a jumper that fitted!

child in adults jumper

There is no point in buying a whole wardrobe of school branded clothing. As much as I would love too, it costs a fortune and will just get stained in pen/mud/who knows what. Luckily you can get great quality unbranded uniform for a fraction of the cost. George at ASDA even have a 100 day guarentee on their clothing so if you do get it wrong, you can easily exchange.

There is more to life than spending hours sewing in name labels. I still have about 75 sew in tags from when big man started nursery. A sharpie pen does the trick and there is no risk of jabbing a needle into your finger.

The little person that you take in and worry about on their first day will soon adapt to their new environment. They no longer need their Mummy to help them make friends. They will develop a longing for learning which requires your best friend to become Google. I honestly don't know how my Mum coped with all the questions and no internet to find the answers. They will continue to make you prouder than you thought possible as they start on their journey to become an adult.

This is a sponsored post

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Gallery: Animals

I am an anti pet person. Why? Well a variety of reasons. Firstly, I get very attached to things and when it comes to a pet being ill, I am not sure that I wouldn't spend our life savings keeping our hamster alive, for it to die a few days later. I am not good at picking animals up. You may remember my terror at holding a lamb earlier this year. Animals have legs and can move and I have a fear of them running away from me and getting lost. Also animals can't go on holiday with you. I like the idea of being able to go away and not having to find someone to come over and feed my pet rabbit.

However, in May, I started to warm up to the idea a little. When Suzanne from 3 children and it was looking for her gecko to have a home for a week, I jumped at the chance. I knew big man would love him.

FYI if you are leaving your pet gecko with someone who is a bit anti animals there are a few things you shouldn't say. For example, telling them that his tail may fall off if you frighten him may scare the life out of them. Stories of crickets escaping are again not that great. Saying, if he dies, don't worry, just makes you worry that you may kill him.

So we had Reggie for a week. In that week I went from this:

holding a gecko for the first time

to this:

holding a gecko

Maybe, just maybe the "I'm never having pets lady" is slowly starting to change her mind.

Do you love pets or share my fears? Please tell me I am not alone.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Cyber Clean Review and Giveaway

cyber clean

I have to admit that one thing I hate about cleaning is that I find it boring. However, we have recently been sent some Cyber Clean cleaning compound to review and it has made a boring job much more fun. Infact it has made me clean things like the remote and the keyboard which I must confess I often neglect to do.

The cleaning compound comes in a zip pouch. When you get it out it feels like slime but it does harden slightly as you mould it. To clean all you do is press it onto your keyboard and peel off. I was worried by it's texture that it might stick but this wasn't a problem. here you can see the imprints on the compound where it has gone round the keys.

cleaning compound

It states it is proven to kill 99.9% of germs too. Now I just need to find a cleaning product that is as fun so that the rest of my house is as clean as my keyboard!

The lovely people at Cyber Clean have kindly offered a zip pouch cleaning compound for one of my readers. Good Luck!

Cyber Clean Zip Pouch

We were given the pouch for the purpose of the review but the opinions are my own.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/cyber-clean-zip-pouch#sthash.7aJyDmJ7.dpuf

Butlin's Skegness V Butlin's Bognor-Regis

Skegness v Bognor-regis

If you have seen my posts about the fun we have had at Butlin's this year through the ambassador programme at Skegness and on our day trip to Bognor-Regis and are thinking of going yourself, I thought it might be helpful to do a comparison. Whilst Butlin's are essentially the same there are some things worth considering to enable you to make the right choice. So here are my thoughts.

1. Size of the complex. The site at Skegness is huge, whereas Bognor is more compact. If you have anyone in your party that finds walking a problem then Bognor might be a better choice. If you chose Skegness and you have small children a pushchair is a must.

2. Sand or Stones? The beach at Skegness is sand, the one at Bognor is pebbles. Both are nice, but worth knowing. You could build sandcastles near the sea at Bognor though.

Skegness Beach
Skegness Beach in February
Bognor beach
Bognor Regis in May

3. Swimming. The Splash Waterworld's at both sites are fantastic. I loved the one at Skegness as it has a separate toddler pool which is quieter for them. My husband preferred the one at Bognor as it has a wave machine which Skegness doesn't have.

4. Fairground Rides. There are a few more under 5's fairground rides at Bognor and it also has the Helter Skelter that is pictured in their advert. This is important to a 4 year old.

Butlin's Helter Skelter
After having complained there was no Helter Skelter in Skegness, middle man
wouldn't go on the one at Bognor! Little man liked it though!

5. Hotel or Apartment. Bognor has a choice of hotels, as well as apartments. Whilst we found our stay at the Gold Apartments at Skegness really good, the hotels at Bognor look fantastic. There are 3 to choose from and they have the benefit of extra sessions at Splash Waterworld. Even better is that there are rooms available for larger families. As a family of 5, this is a bugbear of mine, so I love the fact that both the Ocean and Wave hotel can accommodate our family.

So in conclusion which Butlin's comes out top? Well to be honest they both do. I have a slight preference towards Skegness due to the sandy beach and Splash Waterworld. My husband's preference is towards Bognor-Regis due to the smaller site and their Splash Waterworld. The kids? Well they really don't mind as it is Butlin's and therefore lots of fun.

Do you have a favourite Butlin's and if so which is it and why? I would love to know your opinions too.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Summer Holiday Bucket List

inflatables in swimming pool

I can't quite believe the summer holidays are nearly here. I will be taking a step back from the blog, because quite frankly it is hard work looking after 1 1/2 children but 3 is even more tiring! I have however, got lots of stuff planned and with blog about them as an when I can. Here are some of the things I hope to do.

1. Have a water fight. When it's hot we love a water fight in the back garden so this is likely to happen more than once.
2. Look after caterpillars and butterflies. We enjoyed our caterpillars and butterflies so much last year that I have ordered some more.
3. Go to Woodside Animal Farm
4. Visit Cadbury World
5. Have lunch at Brick's restaurant
6. Have a Space themed day with lots of sparkly moon sand
7. Have a Spongebob Day
8. Camp outside
9. Make a Chinese dragon
10. Make a castle
11. Have a dinosaur themed day
12. Go along the South Bank and spot the book benches
13. make pizzas
14. Have fun at the beach
16. Toast marshmallows
17. Make whoopie pies
18. Make ice cream/lollies
19. Have a party
20. Visit Diggerland
21. Make giant bubbles and bubble snakes
22. Make moon dough and playdough

I will add to this as and when I think of something. Have you got any good ideas to keep the kids entertained?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Getting The Kids Making Breakfast with Jus Rol

jus roll dough

With the summer holidays coming up, it is always nice to get the children cooking more. Usually the thing that puts me off this is the mess that occurs. However, thanks to Jus Rol, they can easily make a yummy breakfast, with minimal mess. I had a go at the croissants myself, as I was worried these would be hard to roll, however they were really easy.

Big man was in charge of making the pain au chocolats. They come in a tube is kept in the fridge. You roll open the tube to get the dough out and it is already perforated where it needs cutting. You then add two chocolat sticks and roll both side into the middle.

making pain au chocolat

You then pop them in the oven at 200C until they are golden.

pain au chocolat

There are lots of products in the Jus Rol Bake it dough range, including Apple Danish's and Garlic Pizza bread. There are also lots of tasty looking recipes over on the Jus Rol website including some recipes designed for the children to have a go at. We really enjoyed our croissants and I will be looking out for some of the other products in the range so that I can get the children involved in cooking more over the summer holidays.


We were given some vouchers for the Jus Rol products for the purpose of this review, but the opinions here are my own.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Active As A Family

Before having children, I'm not sure I had ever thought much about what we would do together at the weekends. I had imagined holidays filled with swimming and playing in the sea, as that is what I had enjoyed doing as a child.

playing in the sea
That's me in the boat.

Within 18 months of having big man, I realised that active weekends were soon to be on the cards. My boys need to get outside and run around. They are happiest running around, climbing and swinging.

So what do we do to keep active as a family? Our local park is a great place to go and have a climb. The boys often scoot there. I had not appreciated quite how hard it was to climb until I had a go at a climbing wall with big man last summer. I honestly thought I would get to the top. I barely managed half way!

climbing wall at Legoland
It's not as easy as it looks!

Another activity we love to do together is geocaching. Announce to the boys that we are going on a family walk, and all you hear is groans. Tell them you are off on a treasure hunt (more commonly known as geocaching) and they are excitedly wondering which small  toy of theirs they can swop.

hidden geocache
Here is a canister one we found last week.

If you are unfamiliar with geocaching, in a nutshell it's an app you can get for your smart phone. You go for a walk and use your phone as a compass to find something that someone else has hidden. Sometimes it's a film canister with a roll of paper in where you record your name. Sometimes it is a Tupperware containing small toys (bouncy ball, stickers, balloon) that you can swop. It is a fantastic way of getting the children interested in going for a walk.

We also love to go swimming with the boys. They love waterslides and we are lucky to have a great fun pool nearby. Of course this is great practice for holidays too.

As the boys get bigger I hope that we will enjoy some family bike rides together. We are currently teaching little man to ride his balance bike. I am hoping that after a few more practices he will pick up some speed!

One thing I am really looking forward to is all the activities we can try as the boys get older. I would love to have another go at surfing, and I have yet to use a kayak. Go Ape is fantastic fun too. My husband and I went for our first wedding anniversary, and I can pretty much guarantee that my boys will love swinging though the trees on the high wires.

So this is how we keep active as a family. What are your favourite things to do together?