{Ordinary Moments} #7 Family Time

Family time – for most families is something that occurs pretty much everyday at some point, whether that be sitting down for a meal together, watching some TV, bath and bedtime stories etc

Not so in our blended household.  For until the time that Ron and I live together, the Ordinary Moments of family time that most people enjoy, are probably more extra ordinary moments for us.

So because of this, the few hours snatched here and there each week that we have together as a family are precious, and to be made the most of.

Generally, every other weekend the girls go off to there dads – as much as I miss them, its also has its upside that Ron and I get to have couple time on a regular basis.  This weekend the girls were meant to be at there dads, so we were looking forward to having some time together, not planning much, playing things by ear.  However, for one reason and another, at the last minute, plans changed and the girls ended up being with us.  Our ‘no plans, lazy weekend’ suddenly became a distant memory, so we got stuck in to ‘family time’

I love family time – we don’t have to be doing anything major, costly or exciting, just being together for longer that a hour at a time is a luxury to be enjoyed.  I love watching Ron with the girls, and the girls love being with him – I think because of his childishness childlike ability to have fun on their level.  He will happily play games with them, climb, swing, hide and scooter

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ron scooter

Favourite family time activities are usually the simple ones –  a walk in the woods, wandering round local beauty spots, a trip to the park, rock scrambling etc

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rock scrambling

As ordinary as these moments are, its the things that I hope our children look back on and treasure.  A price can not be placed on the time and attention we give to kids – it has meaning to them beyond value (especially if icecream at some point is involved!)

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The Weekly Daly Roundup #5

Our week that was… been a tough week in all honesty, tiredness really taking its toll, anxiety levels a little elevated, general grumpy demeanour this week..

High

Fun day out at York Maze with the kids

Its been about 4 years since we last went, and wow, there have been some great additions the the venue. This truly is a place to visit if you can and I feel excellent value for money.  Went with friends and their kids, weather was good, loads to do, list is a long one, so thought the pictures may give a better view of everything on offer.

A few of the mazes to explore

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Adventure playground

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Amazing sandpit and waterplay

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Bouncy Pillow

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Pig racing, crazy maze golf, snake slides & water wars

Other activities 1 collageMotor boat driving, graffiti wall, Crowmania ride, House of Confusion

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The gang! Icecreams! Medals won! – what fab day

Favourites collage

Low

Spending a night at A&E.  Natalie went over on her ankle at York Maze – being a bit enthusiastic on the bouncy pillow.  We had a few tears at the time, but a quick inspection of the foot, wiggling of toes and rotating of the ankle, I thought she’d survive.  She solidered on for the rest of the afternoon with a bit of a limp but without complaint (my kids are used to not complaining.. I’m not the most patient when it comes to potential injuries, unless its dropping off, then stick a plaster on it and get on with it).  That evening, getting them ready for bed, socks pulled off – minutes later her ankle had ballooned! .. despite the lateness in the evening, figured it should be checked out and bundled kids to the car and took them to the local minor injuries unit. Arrived there at 9.02pm (by their clock on the wall), to be turned away as their X-ray dept shut at 9.00pm.  (Disgruntled would be an understatement!) So made the journey to a main Hospital A&E – 5hrs, one X-ray, and 2 very tired and fed up children later we were told it was a sprain, treat with a bag of frozen peas and keep it moving.  Arrived home at 3am!

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Good

Made it through Soap & Suds week at Mini Mess without any accidents, injuries or mishaps.  This is the week that I fear the most.  Regardless of the risk assessments I complete on the activity, despite the health and safety precautions and warnings I make, its always a worry that given the nature of soap (slippy, slidey), that something might happen… but phew..it didn’t.

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Bad

No let up with the insomnia – it really is starting to grind me down.

Enjoyed

A bit of a get together with friends and an impromptu pamper time with them and the kids.  Footspas, mini pedicure, painting of nails along with a natter and catch up.

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Didn’t Enjoy

My grumpiness this week.  Its been a tough week.. maybe as we are in to week 4 of the holidays and having to constantly juggle work and home, keep the kids entertained, keep some sort of eye on the budget, all whilst having very little sleep is taking its tole.  More than usual I’ve found my current living arrangements with hubby a strain.  Trying hard not resent being in a marriage, but for all intents and purposes still a single parent very hard.  The whole trip to A&E on my own with two kids a prime example.  Normal married couples would’ve had a partner there to help – hmm.. but not me.  I know it will all come ok eventually, its just this week ‘eventually’ seems an awful long way away.

The mundane

Ramping up the marketing activity for resuming classes in September.  I reduce my work load considerably over the summer to allow myself more time with the kids whilst they are off school.  But being more than half way through the holidays now, thinking has had to return to business.  This has meant starting to put together, plan and start some activity to promote classes in September.

The out of the ordinary

A random act of romance from Hubby.  We eat out fairly often.. we are a couple that like our food! But generally its just a quick decision, lets go out to eat tonight.  However, this week, with us taking on the competition challenge of seeing how many random acts of romance we can do for each other for the remainder of the month, Ron took it upon himself to make an advance reservation, not only that but at my fav restaurant ( and one that is not particularly his I might add).  He didn’t tell me where we were going, drove a totally different way to keep me guessing, and I have to say, was a total surprise when we rocked up outside.  What was the most touching, was not only had he gone to the trouble to book a table, keep it a secret, but had taken me out to a place I love, for my absolute favourite food, despite the fact that in all honesty, its the type of food he can take or leave.  To top if off, on the way home he made a detour past Passion Gelato to pick up deserts we could eat later at home ( alot later I might add.. we were stuffed).  BIG score for him on the romance front.

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Grateful for

The NHS.  For as disgruntled as I was at being turned away from Minor Injuries, and for as much as I had totally lost the will to live after 5hrs at A&E – at least I was able to get my daughter seen, treated and cared for – more than many many families and children get.. and for this, I am very very grateful.

Here’s to next week.. bring it on!

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The Weekly Daly Roundup #4

Half way through the holidays – where is the summer going. I’m so concious that the weeks are slipping away I am trying to get so much in.

A quick round up of the week

High

An early morning brekkie treat with Ron at the local Harvesters followed by a lovely walk around Oakwell Hall to work it off. Was a perfect start to the day. Breakfast was amazing, not only in amount and quality, but cost too – at only £4.99 for unlimited continental option and then full English – can’t go wrong and it may turn in to a bit of a regular weekend outing.

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Low

Seeing everywhere and buying back to school stuff – very depressing

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Good

Birthday – uneventful which is the way I like them.

Bad

Birthday – 42yrs old – I’ve never really been able to come to terms with getting older.  I remember turning 10, and being devastated that I would never be single figures again.  Turning 30 was a nightmare, I was traumatised for days!  40 was more manageable, helped by a weekend away with Ron (we were newly dating at that time), Now I’m just doing my best to ignore them.

Enjoyed

Lots of great home activities with the kids.  From tie dying t-shirts , to a sports day & water slide with friends, to paint wars in the garden – its been a blast

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Didn’t enjoy

Girls being at their dads.  Its a bit of a double edged sword.  Having a break is great.  Having couple only time with Ron is fantastic and not to be taken for granted EVER – but I really really miss them when they’re not here.

Mundane

Got all the practical jobs done on Saturday afternoon – lawn mowed, survived supermarket shop.  Actually gave Aldi a try this week – everyone saying how much they save gave me a bit of a push.  I wasn’t disappointed, must admit, spent less than I usually would. Washing done (and the makings of Mount Everest aka the ironing pile has started again), – might be mundane but still get a sense of satisfaction when its all done.

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Out of the Ordinary

Attended the last of the summer weddings – congratulations to Nicola & Zak – finally tying the knot after 10 years together.  Her dress was stunning, and Nicola’s three kiddies were adorable.

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Natalie danced non stop at the evening do – she’s her mothers daughter afterall, she certainly has all my moves and more!

Grateful for

All the wonderful local beauty spots we have around here.  We are so lucky to have so many amazing places on our doorstep where we can enjoy green open spaces, woodland walks, wildflower meadows.  Great to enjoy as a couple and explore as a family.

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{Ordinary Moments} #5 Creative Kids

I am not a naturally creative person.  Doing crafting, baking, and the general making stuff activities with the kids for me takes a lot of effort.  But they love it, so I do make the effort despite my OCD tendencies to take over what ever it is they are doing .. I find myself getting overly involved wanting to ‘help a little’ (ok.. a lot!) if they are not doing it quite right, or exactly how I think it should be done.  I would probably be better off tying my hands behind my back during these type of activities to stop myself interfering and let them just get on with it.

I’ve really been noticing this week that whilst I am not particularly creative, actually my children are.  One of the activities on their Summer Bored Board click here see prev blog post to read more about the Bored Board– (SERIOUSLY – introducing the Bored Board these holidays is one of the best things I’ve ever done!) is to ‘write a story’ – Jess has been loving this.  She talks through the concept of the story first, writes a title and introduction before beginning her narrative.  Pictures always accompany the story and she never forgets to credit herself on the cover as the Story Author and Illustrator! She finds so much to spark her imagination, creating delightful characters going on different adventures.

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Its been really inspiring to watch how she puts her stories together, the pride she takes in her pictures and how much she wants to read her stories to pretty much anyone that will listen (thank goodness for the patience of grandma!)

i know its important to encourage creativity where you can, but I’ll be honest I find it hard work – I’m all for the self entertainment sort of stuff (writing their own stories, drawing pictures etc), the larger projects – painting, model making, baking – any really messy stuff I’m not so keen on.  Setting it all up, covering everything that is in danger of being glued, painted on or covered in gunk for what seems a very short amount of playtime before I find myself deserted as they’ve gone off to do something else and I’m up to my elbows is mess!

But this week, I decided to grasp the nettle so to speak.  One of their ‘Bucket List’ activities was to do some tie dying of t-shirts.  A definite outside activity, and with Monday being a dry, occasionally sunny day it was the perfect opportunity.  A quick google on instructions – came across parents.com (click here), a dash to Wilkinsons for the dye, salt and cheap washing up bowls,   Dug out their P.E t-shirts from the last term of school and off we went.

It was such a pleasure to watch them coming up with their designs, deciding on colours and how they wanted them to look. They showed patience in waiting for the dye to work and were so excited when it was time to take them out and see how their designs had turned out. They even offered a critique on the patterns, and decided what they would do differently with the next t-shirt.

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They enjoyed it so much I ended up opening up the new t-shirts for the next term of school and letting them dye those as well.  Safe to say, we have enough tie dyed t-shirts to get them through the whole of the summer!

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The aftermath and clean up wasn’t too bad either, and seeing their creativity, personal style, originality and imagination really come through was well worth it.

After such a successful and relatively stress free activity,  later in the week we really decided to push the boat out on the messy play front – and went the whole hog with ‘Paint Wars’ .  This amounted pretty much to covering the front garden in lining paper, squirting a load of paint all over it, and letting the kids (ok.. and me too) slip, slide, run through, roll in and get throughly covered in paint.  Of course, it descended in to not only squirting the paper with paint, but then each other!

paint collage 1

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A quick clear away of the paper, and it was out with the garden hose.  There was no way anyone was entering the house until at least the majority had been washed away.

The water hose brought a whole other dimension to our play time, being chased round the garden by my 8yr old squeeling (the squeeling was me, not her!) jumping through the spray and their total awe when they made rainbows appear through the mist was pretty magical.

paint collage 3

It was such a sense of freedom, play without limits, so much laughter, the biggest smiles ever, cheekiest of giggles, screams of excitement.

Truly what sunny, summer days should be made of.

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The Weekly Daly Roundup #3 .. 2/8/15

Week 2 of the holidays and a bit of a jam packed week.  Many more highs than lows, many more goods than bads – so I’d say a pretty productive, fun, family week.

A roundup of our week:

High – successfully managing to bake a cake!  With much help from the girls, a never fail recipe supplied from a friend, more buttercream than you’ve ever seen before – ta dah!  An edible, half decent looking birthday cake for my mums 70th.

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Low – Spending £25 on ingredients, cake tin etc for said cake when could’ve bought one from a supermarket for less that a tenner!  Ah,but it wouldn’t have had the same love, care and attention (and slightly sunken middle or wonkey edges!)

Good – successfully got through the first week of Mini Mess without any mishaps – my summer kids programme.  Week 1 can be a bit manic, and I’m never quite sure how its going to go –  but thoroughly enjoyed myself as I think did everyone else.  Just 3 weeks left to go

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Bad – Currently in mid-bout of insomnia – leading to finding the milk in a a cupboard rather than the fridge, searching for and eventually finding my car keys in the shoebox, leaving house in slippers (twice!), leaving house without kids..

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Enjoyed –  Loads of fun with the kids this week – from baking the cake, swimming followed by the obligatory cheesy chips in the cafe. A day out at Sundown Adventureland with friends.

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We managed a lazy Friday morning before heading off to a kids ‘Breeze’ event in the park for FREE put on by the local council.  Great afternoon making masks, bouncy castles, dress up, icecreams, roly polys down the hill and especially loved watching the kids put on Sumo suits and try to wrestle – hilarious!


Mini Breeze

Didn’t enjoy – Spending over 2 hours on the drive back from Sundown – traffic was a nightmare to say the least.  With 4 kids in the car it was endless rounds of hold your breath under the next bridge, spot the green & yellow cars.  In all honesty, they were great, no bickering or falling out, and only a couple of ‘how long till we’re back now’ comments

Mundane – finally finished climbing Mount Everest – otherwise known as the ironing pile!  Something I’d put off everyday for almost 2 weeks, so you can imagine the size of it.  The kids are going through clothes like there’s no tomorrow – they don’t seem to able to keep even just one item clean enough to wear for a second day.

Out of the Ordinary – A couple of things this week.  Went to see Texas in Millenium Square with a friend.  Last time I saw them was 1998 in Sheffield (WHAT!  how long ago!) They didn’t disappoint, fab music, amazing energy.  There is so much to be said for an open air venue, warm summer evening, live music and being out with your bezzie mate acting a bit daft! Makes for a brilliant atmosphere and the ability to remember what it was like to be young and carefree again

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We also attended the lovely wedding of friends – John and Sarah, and they did the Christening of their youngest daughter Isabelle at the same time.  Loved the reception.  The tables all decorated in a shabby chic style, hession table runners, jam jars with fresh flowers and vintage style tea-cups and paper plates.  Food was picnic boxes filled with delights of pork pies (best I’ve ever had), fresh bread, cheese, pickles, crackers, coleslaw and salads.  Desert was a table filled with homemade cakes – coffee & walnut, strawberry and cream, bannofee pie, scones, chocolate cake – it was a help yourself kind of deal.. so would’ve been rude not to try a bit of a few!

Sarah and johns weddingWas such a wonderful, social and relaxed way to have a wedding reception.  Loads of kids entertainment, bouncy castle, soft play, picnic blankets out for them – fabulous. And the sun even made a re-appearance early evening. It was a beautiful wedding. It was also really great to attend as a family and the girls were the best behaved little angels for the full day.  They were polite, they self entertained (with the help of a couple of activity books I’d taken along to get them through the ceremony), no arguing, happy to talk and answer grownups with their simple child endearing conversation when required – lots of fuzzy’s awarded for their chart at the end of the day.

Grateful for – having children that can be (when they want to be) so delightful, so charming and adorable it makes my heart swell with pride and brings tears to my eyes with joy

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{Ordinary Moments} #4 Let us eat cake

My mum has a bit of a landmark birthday this week – the big 70.  Normally for birthdays I get cakes made, I have a fab friend who has a real talent and does it as a hobby (although I think she should make it her career) or I use Paula at The Perfect Cake Company – who I have to say is the most amazing cake decorator.  She has done numerous cakes for me over the years for my girls birthdays and I’ve loved each and everyone of them.

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But, I’d left it a bit late to order one, and given its the holidays I decided to try my hand at a cake myself.. or rather, do one with the girls.  Whilst I cook often, and think I’m ok at it (kids eat most of what I put in front of the, Ron eats everything I put in front of him, but he hates waste, so will eat it whether he likes it or not!), I rarely bake.  I’m a bit of a throw it all together type of cook so generally limit myself to baking flapjack or scones.  I think to bake successfully (cakes etc) you have to be precise or it all goes terribly wrong in my experience, and I’m not too good at precision!

But I thought, hey, no matter how it turns out, I’ll just say the girls did it and everyone will think its wonderful.

My girls certainly have their priorities right .. In their own true style they decided on at the outset was who was going to get to lick the spoon and who was going to get to scrape out the bowl!  I know its the best bit, and boy did they make the most of it.

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My friend had given me a Mary Berry Victoria Sponge recipe that she said had never failed her and was the easiest out there. We set about weighing, measuring, cracking eggs in to the mixer

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It wasn’t long before the kitchen looked like a flour bomb had gone off in it, but the cake was in the oven, and the kids were glued to the oven door waiting for it to rise (I stood there with my fingers crossed that it would actually rise!)

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Decorations were in order – I had in my mind to make lovely pretty roses, and cut outs of flowers and butterflies – all looked so simple in the pictures.  In reality.. not quite as easy as I thought, but we gave it a go and overall, did a reasonable job.  The girls loved using the cutters and we had enough to decorate 3 cakes never mind one.

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I actually had a try at covering the cake in icing, not the most professional job, but given it was my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.

We sat around the cake together, deciding on placement of roses, butterflies and flowers, stood back and admired our handy work.  Ok, so entry in to the Great British Bake off is not going to happen anytime soon – but I think Grandma loved her birthday cake so much more than anything professional I could have had made for her.  There’s nothing quite like something thats home made, slightly wonky, but done with much love and effort.

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As soon as we’d finished, the next words spoken – ‘can we eat the cake now mummy?’

The finished article, made with love (and lots of buttercream) and presented with a rather charming if quite loud rendition of Happy Birthday To You from the girls!

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The Weekly Daly Roundup #2 .. 26/07/15

Been a busy week being the first week of the holidays.  Trying to juggle time with the family and fitting in work.  Attempting to make the kids the priority but still fulfilling commitments. Phew..

A roundup of my week:

High – Clothes shopping with Jessica – first real mum and daughter girlie shopping trip.  Choosing and trying on clothes followed by treats of Millies Cookies

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Low – struggles with arranging childcare over the holidays, having to ask favours of friends to help out here and there.  The real low being getting a response from a close friend that really upset me.  The old saying of you find out who your friends are when you need them is oh so true!

Good – Visiting prospective new schools in preparation for the move, and finding one that I’m really happy with – Decision made!

Bad –  A rather disturbing knocking noise on the car that I am currently ignoring

Enjoyed – our family adventures this week to the Room on the Broom Trail in Wakefield, a Cinema trip & time at Kirstall Abbey – loving the holidays (check out my work blog lifewithminime.com for reviews)

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Not enjoyed – The weather!  Why is it on my days off  with the kids the weather has to be pants.  The days I am working, or they are off at their dads its glorious sunshine – frustrating to say the least!

Mundane – I really want to say that I’ve got up to date with the ironing – but it would be a lie.  The washing did however get done – although looking in the washing basket you’d never know it

Out of the ordinary – A Saturday morning walk round a local beauty spot with just me and hubby.  No loading the car with kids scooters, packing snacks and drinks, hearing the phrase ‘are we there yet’.  And to boot, we actually got some sunshine!  Not only that we treated ourselves (rather than the kids) to ice-cream too!

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Grateful for – being my own boss.  A lot of the time its hard and stressful, but the advantage being that come holiday time it gives me the flexibility to work less, be at home more and enjoy the time with the family.

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Holidays are here! Whats the plan?

Its the school holidays – and boy are we ready – well I am for sure, and given that the girls asked every single day last week if it was the last day of school, I’d deffo say they are too.

I try and be a little prepared for holidays – they are off for over 7 weeks this time, and you can guarantee, without a bit of a plan, by day 2 they will be bickering, falling out and the unforgivable phrase of ‘I’m BORED’ will be uttered.  I still have to work for a couple of days a week, but the rest of the time is ours! One of the the things we’ve been putting together over the past few weeks is a summer bucket list (an idea from Mary who has her own blog, and writes for my business blog Life with Mini Me).  Basically a list of what we think are ‘must do’s’ over the summer holidays (Yorkshire Tots was a good resource for ideas) and includes:

Summer Bucket List

  • Cannon Hall (of course, what holiday wouldn’t be complete without a day there!)
  • Paddle in the sea and have sandcastle building competition
  • Picnics
  • Fairburn Ings (they loved the pond dipping last time we went)
  • Barnsley Metrodome – swimming and slides for all ages
  • Garden party – invite friends round with cake and games
  • Water day (slides, water fights, paddling pools),
  • Room on the Broom trail (at Wakefield)
  • Garden camping (where’s the tent????)
  • Rock scrambliing (Brimham Rocks in Ilkley)
  • Open air swimming (thinking Lido in Ilkley)
  • Den making (collecting cardboard boxes everywhere I go)
  • Knowlsley Safari park
  • Row a boat (boating lake at Shibden Park)
  • Messy day – this involves a number of messy activities including covering the garden in lining paper, covering it in paint, them in old t-shirts and shorts and in they get.  It also involves me guarding the front door with the garden hose in hand!
  • T-Shirt tye-dying (hmm.. should be interesting)

So I see our plan as

Mondays – Summer bucket list activity

Tuesdays – Work (Boo!)

Wednesdays – Work (Boo!)

Thursdays – Play dates – mums from church, and friends of mums from church, and anyone else that fancies coming (all are welcome) are going to meet up at Church on Thursdays, all bring the kids, pot luck picnic type of thing.  Good weather means outside activities, bad weather means inside activities – FREE day with minimum organisation involved

Fridays – play it by ear day.  I do like to keep a day a week where we can do things spur of the moment, impromptu activities can often be the best and also means less pressure – a duvet day with DVD’s sometimes is just what the doctor ordered

With the exception of work days, all things are flexible and weather dependent of course – but rather than floundering each morning trying to decide how best to use our day, we have idea’s and something to look forward to.

We also did our Bored Board this week.  Hearing the kids go ‘I’m bored‘ drives me crazy!  I came across an idea recently which I thought was fab.. wish I could remember where I saw it, was either in a mag or maybe a blog.  And it was to put together a Bored Board – basically get them to make list of home based activities they might like to do, and when ever they utter that unmentionable phrase – refer them immediately to their Bored Board for inspiration.  The kids loved coming up with ideas, and have already used it over the weekend – a totally brilliant idea.  A good suggestion was to do it before the holidays really kick in, as once kids do actually get bored, they find it almost impossible to come with ideas of what they can do.

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Their Bored Board includes things such as:

  • read a book
  • write a story,
  • make finger/sock puppets,
  • put on a puppet show,
  • baking
  • talent show
  • scavenger hunt
  • write their blog
  • paint a picture
  • do jigsaws
  • do make up and nails

.. the list goes on

So here is to the holidays, with lots of fun family time.  Keeping fingers crossed for at least a bit of sunshine over the coming weeks, and most definitely hoping that we’ve enough planned to keep ‘I’m Bored‘ from passing their lips

What do you have planned for the holidays, love to share ideas

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