Monday, 30 April 2012

letting them grow

Parenting is one of those things isn't it? where each time you think you've got it under control, you think you might be on track and sort of know what your doing, things change.

The baby stage never really bothered me, I loved it, the endless coooing and cuddles, the simple nature of things, smiles beaming back at you from the funny faces you pulled, simple sing song rhymes making them fall asleep against your chest. The sleepless nights and days following the same pattern full of nappies and feeding babies seemed to fit round my life and I blended into being mummy easily.

Then the toddler years approached, things changed, the dynamics of the daily routine were more manic, time was spent instead of cooing and rocking but rushing around picking up after the mini whirlwinds that tore through the house, re arranging the ornaments so everything was out of reach that was precious, getting used to the fact the dogs water bowl had to remain outdoors to prevent a flooded kitchen, finding out that nappycream is awful to get out of hair and having to have a bag full of nappies, snacks and toys for every occasion as a permanent fixture over your shoulder soon became part of daily life.

Busy days seemingly filled with laughter, always finding new ways to cope with the new stage of developments. Activities became the focus, each day filled with colourful bricks, paint and playdough, running climbing and exploring the outdoors at every opportunity marveling at their new skills and encouraging them to try new things.

Life was fun, then time changes again school years begin and personalities appear more each day, back chat and attitude tears and temper. Homework frustrations and exhaustion for all parties makes the school years the toughest.

As a parent I have watched and marvelled at my childrens developments smiled as they learnt to crawl then walk, talk and shout but with each stage of development I find it harder and harder to find the right way to manage things. Pushing limits and testing boundaries are easy enough to handle when the fall out is over how much chocolate to eat before bed, easily resolved when the upset is that they want two stories reading instead of one. But as the children grow so do the challenges.

So how do you know when they are old enough to be given more trust? When do you know they are ready to take on the next stage of development? when that next stage doesn't involve nearly as much interaction from you, when the next stage is all about breaking the ties and doing things alone, why is it these times that I worry the most about?

My eldest is 10, my daughter nearly 9. They are not babies anymore, heck they are fast growing out of the children stage, they are growing up. I want them to be independent, I want them to have confidence and responsibilities. I want them to learn from their own mistakes and learn their own boundaries They are no longer babies that need my 100% attention, they want to go out and do their own thing, play at the park - alone without their mum sat watching them. They don't need me to watch them anymore,  So why is this the hardest parenting, why is it now when they don't need me there at every turn do I find myself struggling being a mum the most?

I have slowly been dripping in bits of Independence to their everyday lives, encouraging them to make the 2 minute walk to school themselves, walking them half way, and then waving them off, each day a new little bit more independence, stalling to fetch them so they come out of the gates and meet me at the lollipop lady instead.

Each day that passes they are growing up before my eyes, I know I have to let them, I know stalling this Independence cooping them inside preventing them from these experiences is like any other developmental stage and if they don't get the opportunities they won't get to flourish, but holding their hands whilst they stumbled and letting go so they could take them first wobbly steps into my out stretched arms, was so much easier than letting them run off down the road to play and learn where I am not there to catch them.

Great Outdoors - Water Fights!

Sometimes theres no need to go far to enjoy being outdoors, the benefits of fresh air, sun and laughter can be found in the garden!

When the weather is warm one sure fire way to get the kids eager to leave the house is the prospect of having a water fight.

Theres not many things that are more fun than water.

Sprinkling each other with hose pipes,

and playing with a water table or splashing around in a paddling pool where ever there is water there is sure to be laughter.

Even if you haven't got space for a big paddling pool then you can still have great water fun with waterbombs,  these small colourful explosions of water are a huge hit here, although they take alot longer to fill up than they do to soak someone the children are always happy to see a bag full of soaking grenades.

Water certainly makes being outdoors on a hot day that bit more fun, but remember to have plenty of towels at the ready to warm up after!

This Post is part of my 10 of the Best Free Outdoor Activities series to help inspire people to turn off the electronic devices and find some fun outdoors click the badge below to find more outdoor fun.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Great Outdoors - Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping must be one of the classic child hood activities that at some point in every ones childhood they get to experience, but I sometimes wonder if there are less children getting to see nature in this way than there used to be.

Pond Dipping family activity fun with nature
Taking a trip to a local pond will unleash a new interest in nature and as there are hundreds of ponds all across the UK no matter where you are there is bound to be one near you,  if you are not sure where a local wildlife pond is then take a look at the Wildlife Trust website to see what nature reserves are local to you.

Once you have found you local wildlife pond to dip, you will need some equipment.

Nets and containers being the only two things you really need and neither need to be expensive, pretty much any net will be just fine, even if you have a net with larger holes its likely you will still catch small critters as they get caught up in the weeds. Old ice cream tubs will be perfect containers, white being a great colour to help you see your finds.

blond boy pond dipping with net beauty of nature

Its lovely to just get out into the countryside with a net and a bucket and let the children dabble in the edge of a pond or stream it makes a great afternoon activity needing minimal forward planning, but if you want to plan more of an activity around Pond dipping then take a few minutes before hand to prepare some identification sheets, gather some magnifying glasses, pens, paper and clip boards to take along with you so the children can jot down what they find.

There is so much nature around ponds from flowers to the bugs and beasties that inhabit underwater, take a look at the Pond Conservation website which has a lovely list of what you can expect to find.

Froglet found in pond

The great thing about Pond Dipping is that no matter what the weather it can still be fun, and it doens't really matter what time of year you choose to go along there will always be something to find! You can watch the life cycle of frogs fnding frogspawn in the early spring (normally feb - april) then watching as they turn to tiny tadpoles and over the next 3 months become froglets with tails before going through metamorphosis and becoming perfectly formed minature frogs. Along with all the other pondlife it really is something you can do again and again.

To get the most out of pond dipping try not to gather too much pond weed from the top or sediment from the bottom, and sweep in figure of 8 strokes, the mini beasts will tend to be found in the sheltered spots under plants and trees or near the edge.

children pond dipping in wildlife pond

Obviously Pond Dipping can be wet and muddy so ensure your not wearing your Sunday best clothes, if your not worring about the dirt you will have much more fun, and for safety reasons ensure children are supervised at all times.

This Post is part of my 10 of the Best Free Outdoor Activities series this post is to help inspire people to turn off the electronic devices and find some fun outdoors click the badge below to find more outdoor fun.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

April Showers

Drip Drip Drop little April Showers, Beating a tune as you fall all around..

Every time it rains the song from Disney's Bambi movie jumps into my head, fitting at the moment because it is indeed April and we are experiencing our fair share of Showers!

So what do you do when it has seemed to do nothing much but rain?!

young boy in rain with umbrella

Go out and have fun in spite of the wetness of course!

Drip Drip Drop Little April Showers, What can compare to your beautiful sound?

girl rain umbrella outside april showers fun

Do you love or loath the rain?

I'm linking in to the Country Kids over at Coombe Mill encouraging everyone to get outdoors and enjoy!
To see what everyone else has got upto this wet week pop on over by clicking on the badge below.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 23 April 2012

today is possibly.. maybe... my blogs birthday?

Lots of other bloggers know when they started their blogs, they have a very firm date, the first post and from then on their blogs grew and grew, some bloggers know when they reach their 100th post, or 500th post or their 10'000 tweet or whatever milestone crops up, marking the occasion with something of worth.

Me on the other hand don't really know any of that!

I started this blog officially I guess on 11th December 2010 promising myself I would stick to the blog, I had no real idea what I was doing at that point and didn't really expect anyone to ever read my blog, it was like a new beginning a brand new baby I so wanted to nurture and grow.

But after only posting a handful of posts over Christmas, we had a rough start to the new year, real life got in the way and my blog got left high and dry until this very day a year ago. 24th April

Thats when I was able to really start posting again, having just moved house the blog took my mind of things and gave me something to focus on.

This day last year I very nearly didn't bother coming back to the blog, it wouldn't have been unusual, I had done it a couple of times in the past where I started with great intentions then something happened and all them hopes were slashed and put on hold (like my failed 366 challenge), so it wouldn't have been surprising if this blog had sat collecting dust with tangle weed blowing through it occasionally forever more, never to be revisited.

But for whatever reason it was, on 24th April I decided to post again, infact I went abit over board and posted three times that Sunday afternoon! (you can read them posts here)

After that each month my blog grew abit more, I changed the header from the standard blogger variety and put my own stamp on it, I set up a facebook page and joined in more and more of the blogging communities and now I am pretty proud at where I have got, I really do love this little space on the corner of the internet, I still consider myself to be very much a newbie with sooo much to learn and improve when it comes to my blog but I do know the most important thing is making sure that love and enjoyment, that excitement of hitting publish on a post and receiving a comment that drew me into blogging in the first place is never lost.

There are huge talks of the whole business side of blogging flashing around over the Internet at the moment, making money is obviously a huge draw to bloggers and I think theres not that many of us who can truthfully say they would not want to be paid for doing what they love, but it is not easy when you tiptoe into the corners of that side of the blogging world, it is a slippery path one that can make or break a blog. Having a constant thought about how to make money, and wondering what you should be doing more or less of in order to attract that illusive fortune is draining, it is mentally exhausting and will quickly zap the love right out of any blog, and we have to remember that blogs are nothing without the heart of the writer behind them.

So what have I learnt in the past year? Too much to write here.

What do I hope for the next year? To be honest I really don't know but right now I just aim to continue to love care and nurture my blog as it wobbles into its toddler years, and  if by this time next year I can look back on my blog and see 24 months filled with blog posts, brimming with photos, preserving those smiles of my children that I desperately want to capture and store safely forever more then I will look back with a smile on my face like I do now as I flick through the posts of the past 12 months.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Confidence building

After the local circus visit a few weeks back, where Chloe was extremely anxious about it all with a full on panic attack at the thought of venturing into the unknown, I wanted to find some way of encouraging her confidence and give her something to focus on and enjoy.

Chloe is a right diva, and has always loved singing and dancing and has the attitude to rival any stroppy tween actor so I thought it would be great for her to rein in her attitude and focus it on proper structured acting and singing, and hoping attending a drama school it would help to rebuild her confidence which has dropped since moving house.

So I searched online and found a local singing, dancing and acting stage school. I phoned up and enrolled her; to start today.

The past few weeks Chloe has eagerly crossed of the dates on her calender, talked about going to the classes and genuinely sounding excited about the whole process.

This morning comes and her enthusiasm drops. As I was fully expecting it too. I  tried to encouraged her to give it ago, and not to be scared until she'd been and seen how it all was.

Luckily because I was prepared for the negative attitude I had a few encouraging tricks up my sleeve.

New black leggings and tops for her to wear so she looked the part, The promise of a trip to the local shop to by snack bars and drinks.

These worked somewhat, and on the way to the local shop I managed to convert her back into being excited to go and see before making her mind up about the session.By the time we had picked out some snacks and returned home she was full of smiles and eager to go.

So on the journey there she was happy, no tears at all, all was looking good.

Then we walked in the door and she withdrew and said she didn't want to stay. We were about 5 minutes late (we are ALWAYS late for everything) so the teacher was just starting to talk to everyone, and she made it brief saying right everyone off we go, and hurried Chloe off with a set of other girls. Chloe by now was  looking tearful, I reassured her I would stay for a few minute to fill in some forms and come see how she was getting on after, she didn't want to venture with the others, but they were very sweet and a group of them encouraged her to go along saying they had also been upset on their first day.

So she went, all but reluctantly with tears staining her cheeks.

I then had a chat with the teacher and had to make the decision of if to go and see her and risk making her upset again, or if to leave her be and hope she wasn't too scared and started to enjoy it.

We decided in the end to send the teacher in to see how she was, and providing she wasn't sat curled up in a ball wailing loudly, we would sneek off, I  looked through the door and saw her sat looking red eyed and puffy cheeked, but sat with the others joining in the singing.

And on that note I turned and left.

I do hope she has enjoyed it,  time will tell, we pick her up at 1pm, it will either be a case of her never ever wanting to go again and it may have back fired horribly and result in her never leaving my side in the future..... or she will have loved it and come out with renewed confidence.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Photo Edit - Changing the feel

I am really enjoying the photo edit challenges, and after my flamingo Edit won last week I have really renewed my passion for editing photos!

This Weeks photo over at Little Adventures blog in the FlipFlop Photo Edit challenge is a really lovely shot, the original is beautiful the bench is lovely and in such a nice setting with all that green.

One thing about photo editing is trying to change the feel to a photo and this original has a really warm summery feel,I tried to add a more vintage feel to the picture to really focus on the bench, the normal option would be to see how the picture looked after using a sepia filter, but I love the colours in this photo so I didn't want to replace them completely with sepia.

Instead I increased the shadows, toned down the colours slightly increased the brightness a touch to compensate the increased shadows and then increased the sharpen on the bench.

I also added a sketchy frame and this is what I came up with:

Now go and look at what everyone else has done to this beautiful photo by following this badge.

Flip Flop Photo Edit Challenge

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Social Media Storm Clouds

The Easter holidays are nearly over, two weeks off to recuperate and restore our batteries, after such glorious weather a week before I was really looking forward to the break from the school run, being able to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the holiday, the children were tired and ratty and in need of the break too, but just as we were breaking up  mother nature had other ideas, and the weather went from lovely sunshine, where we were playing water bombs in the garden, to snow!

So the holidays have been spent doing nothing too much, not really going anywhere in particular, relaxing somewhat at home, in the house, Easter weekend itself sort of washed over us with the boys suffering from slight tummy bugs, and the weather trapping us inside, and when you spend too long in the house tempers fray and that tranquil relaxed rest that I'd hoped for this holiday never really materialised.

Yesterday once again the weather was hit and miss, with thunder and rain storms one minute and then the next it brightening up slightly.

The children were on the main part being well behaved, they had spent the day before absorbed in making cardboard box houses for their little figures, I hadn't seen or heard much off them all day but I  could feel myself suffering from a touch of cabin fever, and my temper getting shorter and shorter, so another day indoors was even less appealing.

It's all too easy to take the easy option when the weathers abit miserable, and try to entertain the children indoors, but then there is that draw to social media, that lull of pre occupied mindset where your not really entertaining the children at all but more entertaining yourself, with the need to keep updated with whats happening on the great big world wide web.

Then when the children ask for a simple thing and it takes you away from finishing your follow up comment, or reading the next line of unimportant news you snap at them.

And that's when it hit me, Social Media was hovering more of a cloud over our heads than the weather.

The Internet is a wondrous thing, but it is oh so awful at the same time, and there are so many more wondrous things to be seen.

So I switched off the computer and we went out,

 It didn't matter that it might rain, we enjoyed the sunny spells in between,

 The children ran and played,

 They skimmed stones into the water,

 and found newts.

We ended up not returning home till gone 6.30pm and today when they woke up we had a relaxing morning made dinner and then did the same thing again, no computers, no phones, no facebook but lots of fun.

I'm linking this to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill be sure to pop over there to see other people promoting the benefits to being outdoors!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Favourite Childhood toys.

We all have them don't we, the ones that have stood the test of time, the ones that we remember being a firm fixture to our childhood, so when Mummy Too said she was doing a linky all about Favourite Childhood Toys I really wanted to join in.

I have two soft toys that I remember being there all through my childhood, they were still on my bed in my teenage years and continue to have that spot right to this day.
They are Magic and Wrinkles;

favourite childhood toys poundpuppies and rabbit dog

Not your ordinary teddy bear or girls doll, but instead a beautiful rabbit and a Pound Puppy.
I remember the day I received both of these toys, Wrinkles, the Pound Puppy, when I was probably no more than 3 or 4 years old, and Pound Puppies were all the rage, me and my sister already had one or two of the smaller versions when the pregnant Mummy Puppies had just been released and they became high up on our wish list.
ppound pups puppies loo soft toy from 80's dog

Any trip to town resulted in me having a major tantrum because I couldn't come home with one. (and I get reminded of this often especially when my own strong willed children play up!) Anyway eventually me and my sister got our very own mummy and babies Pound Puppies and Wrinkles was named and instantly become a favourite toy who never went too far away from my side from that point on.

80's soft toy from the 80s pound puppies pound pups dog with babies

Unfortunately her babies got lost along the way, but other than her scuffed nose, which has been lovingly rubbed off, she is still very huggable along with her partner in Crime Magic the Rabbit.

 I received Magic as a Christmas gift, a year or two after Wrinkles. That Christmas is the one stored most highly in my memories, that year me and my sister walked down the stairs on Christmas morning eager to see what Santa had left us with butterflies in our stomachs, and on opening the living room door we were greeted with beautifully wrapped presents, but amongst the pretty wrapping paper my sister had a lovely wooden rocking horse unwrapped proudly on display, and I had Magic the rabbit, sitting unwrapped on top of a big box, from the moment I set eyes on her I loved her, she doesn't always sit up as well these days as her stuffing is somewhat less firm from all the hugs, and her dress isn't as pressed and primed as it once was, but I still love her as much as I did that Christmas morning.

Both Magic and Wrinkles accompanied us on all our family holidays and sleepovers at grandparents, they were the subject of hours of entertainment as they attended all sorts of tea parties and put up with being hugged, sat on and left behind on numerous occasions.

With them being such a huge part of my childhood I looked for a photograph of Magic and Wrinkles with me as a child, thinking surely there must be hundreds of them somewhere, but in the selection of photographs I have I couldn't find a single one of me with them, granted I don't have many of my childhood photos, they are all stored in my mums loft, but I was hoping for a glimpse of Magic and Wrinkles amongst my collection somewhere. Then I found this one, it is of my bedroom, when I would have been a young teenager, crazy about Boyzone and there you can see Magic and Wrinkles  in their favourite position on my bed.

The lack of photographs of me with my much loved toys which really do symbolise childhood made me wonder if I had any of my children with their favourite toys.

I found some lovely ones of my youngest with his favourite Monkey - Fred taken a couple of years ago and some of the older two with various favourite toys, but surprisingly there is a distinct lack of their furry friends and it will be something I shall try to remember to photograph from now on, so when they look back in years to come they will find the photos to match their childhood memories.

young boy with soft teddy cute photo
I am linking this up to Mummy Toos Linky, be sure to pop over to see everyone elses favourite Childhood toys and join in showing off your own by following this rather lovely badge!

My favourite childhood toy
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