Friday, 1 March 2019

Our February Half Term

January seemed to drag on forever and it felt like half term would never arrive! But finally it was time to relax...I say relax in the loosest sense as we had an action packed week planned. But still, there was no school run!

Here's what we got up to..

Abba Workshop / Upton Country Park

The first day of the holidays saw us having a split day - I spent the day with my choir on an Abba Workshop which was brilliant fun! The children had a day with Paul which was nice as they don't get to do it without me very often. The weather was a bit drizzly but he took them out for a long walk to a place called Upton Country Park. It's somewhere we love visiting and it's great because it's walking distance from our house, and there is always something fun to do!



He did make me laugh though, he packed a picnic for the kids but said they were still hungry and wanted something else....welcome to my life hah! Always blimmin hungry! 

Winchester Science Centre

This is fast becoming Elliot's favourite place to visit, in fact he's been there three times since December! We went along to review the half term activities and we had a brilliant day. There is so much to do and is definitely a full day out. Erin loves it too, she's too young to understand the science behind the experiments but give her a button to press and she's happy! 


Jawsome Sharks at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park

We've recently become Blogger Ambassadors for Weymouth SEA LIFE and it's somewhere we really enjoy visiting. The kids were looking forward to taking part in the Jawsome Sharks event and I was looking forward to seeing the Fairy Penguins - who are extremely cute by the way! 



We had lunch in the nearby pub too and they had a soft play area which was fab - more pubs should have this! It meant the kids weren't getting bored waiting for their food, and I got a few minutes of peace while they were off exploring. Not so easy getting them to leave though ;)

Dodging the showers at Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is very popular at this time of year with thousands of people visiting to see the beautiful snowdrops. It certainly seemed like most of Dorset were there the same time as us judging by the number of cars in the carpark and queues in the cafe! 

It was a funny old morning with lots of sunshine and torrential showers but the kids didn't care about the rain, they just had lots of fun playing with their friends. We did have a muddy incident though...Erin decided that stomping in it wasn't enough and she ended up sitting in a very thick muddy puddle!


Looking for Zog at Moors Valley Country Park

Moors Valley is always a great place to visit as there are acres of forest to explore with lots of play trails along the way. There is also the brand new Zog trail! We didn't do the full trail which involves purchasing an activity pack from the information centre but we enjoyed spotting the Zog pictures along the way. 


We went with a couple of our friends and the children had a brilliant time playing on the wooden play areas. Thankfully we had no mud incidents although Elliot did manage to split his welly boots! 



Seaside Fun in Swanage


The weather looked lovely for Friday so we headed down to the seaside town of Swanage with some friends. Unfortunately the weatherman got it wrong and we drove into Swange in thick mist! It was pretty chilly too so not quite the warm Spring day we were hoping for. Never mind, we had lots of fun playing in the park, spending all our 2ps in the arcade - we even went to Wimpy, how retro! 


After lunch we decided to let the kids have a play on the beach - but it took them all of 5 seconds to get wet in the sea! Elliot's legs were drenched and his brand new wellies were full of water! Fortunately we had spare clothes and hypothermia was averted. They loved it though!!



Geocaching in our local area


On the last day of the holidays the sun was shining again so we decided to head out for a bit of Geocaching. If you've not heard of Geocaching before, it's a great activity that goes on all over the world and is basically a bit like a treasure hunt! 

We drove to a nearby village and followed a very muddy track that led us to several caches. Elliot was really excited to find his first geocoin too! 



The weather was absolutely gorgeous - mad to think that this time last year we had snow! 

So that was our half term holiday -nice and busy just as we like it! We did have a couple of days where we didn't go out and just chilled out at home - we all needed to recharge our batteries and it was nice not to have to rush out anywhere. 

We're on countdown to the Easter holidays now! 


Saturday, 23 February 2019

Jawsome Sharks at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park


This year we became Blogger Ambassadors for our local SEA LIFE Adventure Park in Weymouth. It's somewhere that I've been visiting for as long as I can remember and it's lovely to be able to take my own children and know that we are going to have a guaranteed great day out!

We will be visiting lots this year to review all the exciting things happening but our first day out was to check out the Jawsome Sharks event. The first thing that caught my eye was the word PLAY-DOH - I don't know about your kids, but mine love the stuff so I knew this event would be a big hit!


Guests are invited to become a Jawsome Ranger by assisting Professor Finn who has lost all the model shark teeth around the park. Along the way, guests will discover facts about the different species of sharks and will have the chance to learn more about the SEA LIFE sharks and rays. 

We couldn't wait to get started! At the front desk we were given information sheets and pencils and off we went. The park is very easy to navigate and each creature zone is numbered so it's very simple to see everything. 



It didn't take us long to spot our first shark tooth in one of the tanks and we had to then decide which type of shark is came from. The information sheets have a picture of all the teeth so it's nice and simple for little ones to figure it out. 


One of the biggest draws of the park is the amazing play area Caribbean Cove - in my opinion it is one of the best in Dorset. It is always something Elliot looks forward to and this visit was no exception - he raced through the zones in record time to get to the the play area! 

Fortunately, Costa Coffee was open so I was able to relax with a sneaky hot chocolate while the children played! It's great that the play area is suitable for a variety of different ages - Elliot of course loves to climb up to the highest point and slide down the firemans pole but there's plenty for Erin too. She loves going down the toddler slide and sitting in the boat! 



I was wondering how I was going to drag the children away from the play area but fortunately there was a torrential downpour which had us running for cover of the Ocean Tunnel. I think we might still be there otherwise!

I love the Ocean Tunnel and it's definitely my favourite zone - I was about to write that it's relaxing watching all the creatures swimming serenely above....it probably is relaxing if you haven't got two little ones nagging to find another shark tooth! "Come on Mum!!!"

Fortunately the rain had stopped so we headed towards one of the newest attractions at the park, Fairy Penguin Island. Here lives twenty of the cutest penguins you will ever see - the smallest penguins in the world in fact!



Back to the Shark Mission...after finding our last tooth we were keen to head back to Professor Finn in the shark lab. There the children handed in their findings and were given a prize which was a pot of play-doh. In previous events they have received a special pop badge so this was a real treat and less likely to get lost in the boot of the car! I was expecting it to be a mini pot of Play-doh but actually it was full size and there were plenty of colours to choose from...Elliot swapped his about 6 times before settling for turquoise!

The Shark Lab was a great place to learn about Sharks with lots of teeth on show and various items that can be found along the shoreline. My kids however were more interested in the activity tables where they spent ages playing with the play-doh and creating their masterpieces. There were activity sheets detailing how to make your own Play-Doh shark but Elliot was happy to go freestyle!




After a quick pose in the impressive Lego shark head, it was time to head home. We had a brilliant day and learnt lots of about sharks. We can't wait to visit again!

The Jawsome Sharks event is running from 16th February - 6th May 2019. For more information and to book tickets, please check out the SEA LIFE Weymouth website.

If you would like to read about our previous visits to SEA LIFE Weymouth, see here


*Disclaimer: We are Weymouth SEA LIFE Ambassadors and received an annual pass in return for regular reviews, but all thoughts and opinions are my own

Monday, 18 February 2019

Science of Magic - Half Term Fun at Winchester Science Centre



You may remember that we visited the Winchester Science Centre back in December and it was easily one of the best days out we've had as a family.

We were invited back to experience the brand new activities for half term and Elliot was quite excited to hear that the live science show was centred around the Science of Magic! He has several of his own magic sets so he couldn't wait to see what tricks he would watch.

The live science shows are running at regular intervals throughout the day ( 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm) and can be booked online when you purchase tickets for the Science Centre.

We opted for the 11am one so when we arrived we headed straight downstairs and took our seats in the science show room. There are plenty of seats but little ones might want to sit on the end of the row to get a better view!


The show began with a pretty impressive balloon trick featuring liquid hydrogen - science wasn't my strongest subject at school but the show taught me a few things! I won't give any of the secrets away but you can expect to see a scientific take on the cup and ball trick, and even the show's presenter setting his hand on fire! (Not to be tried at home obviously...!)




It's a great show and well worth seeing if you are visiting this half term. It lasts for 25 minutes which is just long enough to hold the attention of the younger members of the audience.

February half term also sees the return of the You Are Here!, a hugely popular 30-minute planetarium show that combines live performances with the immersive 360 full dome planetarium experience.


The show takes you on a journey through space to discover "the most incredible, remarkable, mind blowing thing in the universe". Aimed at children and their families, they will love zooming into the planets and learning some facts along the way. The light up umbrellas are pretty cool too! Elliot said he really enjoyed "You Are Here!" and he liked seeing Mars best.


In between watching the science show and learning about the planets in the Planetarium, we had lots of time to explore the interactive displays in the Science Centre. And there are so many things to see and do! The kids were immediately drawn to the Colon Cafe again where they learnt about good and bad bacteria and what goes in and out your body. Elliot also loved the Science of Sport Zone where he tested out wheelchair basketball, took part in a rowing race and even found out how high he could jump!





There are two floors of interactive exhibits, plus the new Explorer:Space zone featuring 20 fantastic modular exhibits. With so much to see, there is something for everyone. Even Erin - she might be too young to understand the exhibits but she enjoyed "helping" Elliot! She also loved the construction soft play area and spent lots of time in here whilst the boys explored the Space zone.



We had lunch in the Hub cafe again but there are plenty of seating areas on the lower level of the centre for people bringing picnics. I also spotted outdoor seating and play area so this will be great in the Summer!

We had another fantastic day at the Winchester Science Centre - it is fast becoming one of our favourite places to visit. It is perfect for a rainy weekend and I guarantee there will be something for all the family to enjoy. We can't wait to come back!



Ticket Info: 


Tickets cost £12 per person with under 3's going free. If you book online at least three days in advance you will save 25% off.

The Science of Magic activities are free with admission and run daily 10:00-17:00 from
Friday 15 – Monday 25 February.

You Are Here! planetarium shows are running at least twice daily 16 - 22 February. Tickets cost £5.50 per person with General Admission or £8.60 standalone.

There is a £2 charge for visitors wishing to park on site.

For more information, please visit https://www.winchestersciencecentre.org/

*Disclaimer - We were invited to Winchester Science Centre in order to conduct an honest review of the half term activities.





Monday, 4 February 2019

Erin Turns Two

When Erin was born I had all good intentions of documenting her mini milestones by writing regular updates on the blog. Her last update was 13 months so I'm not doing too well there am I ;)

Having read some lovely children updates by other bloggers (loved this one by Sabrina at Mummy Stylist), it gave me the nudge I needed to write one for Erin!

Last week Erin turned two which I quite can't believe. I know it's such a cliche but time really does whizz by and they grow out of the baby phase so quickly. Erin is a walking, talking, independant toddler now and it amazes me!


For her birthday we hired a hall and invited her little friends. Typical second child, most of her friends were Elliot's friends but recently she has made some lovely new friends of her own at her swimming class and it was nice to invite them along too.

We booked Libby from Erin's Moo Music class to entertain the children and she worked her magic for a solid two hours playing games, singing songs and generally wearing everyone out! Erin had a fantastic time :)


Growing


Erin seems to be following in her brother's footsteps and is right at the top of the chart for her age/weight. Elliot was the same but his weight/height balanced out by the time he was 4/5, I'm sure it will be the same for Erin! She is mostly in 2-3 clothes but some shops seem to be on the smaller size - the t-shirt in the photo above for example is a 3-4 from River Island and seems so small. Her feet are a 6.5H and seem to be growing fast!

Food


She is currently going through a fussy stage and will not touch anything green or remotely veggie! She loves fruit though still...phew. She loves having toast and fruit for breakfast but isn't really a fan of sandwiches for lunch. She'd much rather have a 'picky'plate with some cheese, fruit, crusty bread, crisps etc.

Dinner times can be a challenge, I try and introduce new things but she would literally eat sausage, chips and beans every night if I let her! If she doesn't like something she will say "yuck, that's disgusting" and push the plate away. I don't force her to eat things as I don't really want to make a big deal out of it and she certainly won't be starving anytime soon!


Sleep


Erin has moved from her cot and is now sharing a room with Elliot, her on the bottom bunk. This might not be ideal in a few years time but they like it for now and it means our 3rd bedroom can go back to being an office! She likes having a drink of milk before bed and she still has a dummy for comfort. (it will be going soon though!). She's a bit of a monkey and won't self settle so we can't put her straight into bed because she'll keep Elliot up. Instead we sit downstairs while she has her milk, and with the lights very low/off. She'll normally drift off with a little back rub! Sometimes she sleeps through, if she wakes up she'll just come into our room. The easiest thing is to just pop her in with us and she'll go straight back to sleep. We definitely could do with a kingsize bed though, my husband and I spend most of the night clinging onto the edge of the bed for dear life while she stretches out in the middle! 

She still has a nap most days but this is getting trickier to enforce. If we're home she will sometimes drop off to sleep if I pop her in our bed with The Highway Rat on to watch but usually she'll nap in the car. I can normally get her inside without waking her! I prefer naptimes to be earlier otherwise she can be a pain at bedtime - if she sleeps later than 2pm then we have problems! Some days she will snooze for two hours, other days 20 minutes.

Development


Erin is a proper little chatterbox and has no issues with getting her point across. Popular phrases we hear are "oi! that's my book/game/toy/biscuit", "Ok Mummy!", "Yuck, that's disgusting!", "Go play with Elliot?" and "where/what are you Mummy?". I think it definitely helps having an older sibling because Erin just copies everything Elliot says and does. In the last week she has been trying to get Alexa to play songs...but she says "Sexa! Play Baby Shark!"

Erin has learnt to count to ten and we're currently working on her colours...everything is pink at the moment though!

Last week Erin started pre-school. It's a lovely little pre-school and it's where Elliot went so we already know all the ladies. She's only doing a couple of sessions a week but she absolutely loved it and can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Life in General


Having two children certainly keeps me on my toes, life is always busy and we do have lots of fun! Fortunately Elliot and Erin get on really well and they are quite happy to play together. Elliot is so good with Erin although sometimes I have to intervene when playtime gets a bit rough before someone gets injured!!


We don't really go to any baby groups but Erin has a weekly music class with Moo Music which she adores. We also do swimming lessons and are regulars at our local soft play cafes :)

I don't think Erin and Elliot look much alike these days, Elliot looks alot like my husband and Erin seems to be looking more and more like me....poor thing! What do you think?


Things Erin Likes
- Sausages
- The Highway Rat and pretty much all of Julia Donaldson's TV adaptations!
- Sticker books
- Hey Duggee and the stick song
- Andy and The Odd Socks songs
- Dancing/wiggling her bum
- Jumping in puddles
- Books
- Seeing her friends
- Playing with her kitchen
- Magazines, but only for the free gift and stickers!
- Peppa Pig
- Playing with Elliot
- Splashing in the pool
- Spending time with Nanny and Grandad
- Mr Tumble

Things she Doesn't Like
- vegetables
- Being in her buggy too long
- Kisses (only occasionally and on her terms!)
- Having to listen to my music in the car ("play tumble! want Tumble!")
- Brushing her hair
- Brushing her teeth







Wednesday, 23 January 2019

19 Goals for 2019

I'm not really one for new years resolutions - let's face it, I'm never going to be giving up chocolate anytime soon! This year, I have decided to set some goals - 19 might sound alot but they don't have to be massive unattainable goals. Kara from Chelsea Mamma inspired me, I read her goals and thought yes, what a great idea!

In no particular order, my 2019 goals...


Declutter - We seem to have so much STUFF in our house and the piles of things just seem to be getting bigger! I really need to spend some time getting rid of the crap that isn't needed - like the old magazines, or plastic tat that the kids hoard. I swear the cuddly toys are breeding because they seem to popping up everywhere!

Get rid of old clothes - Following on from the decluttering, I want to reduce the amount of clothing in our wardrobes! Mine is choc-full of stuff and if I'm honest I probably only wear 20% of it. If I haven't worn it in the last 6 months, it will be going on ebay or going to the charity shop!

Eat more new food - Most families are probably the same but we have a list of tried and tested meals that we eat most weeks. I'm not the best cook so if I find something that is easy and most importantly, the kids eat, we have it alot! This year I want to try new recipes and attempt to get Erin eating a more varied diet including lots of the all important veggies.



Be more active - It's so easy to hop in the car sometimes but this year I want to get more active, whether that's more walking or taking time out for myself and going swimming. It's important for the children too, plus the fresh air always wears them out!


Blog More - My blog is just a hobby but I admit I struggle to find the time to write sometimes. Life is busy with two children! I love looking back on it through and seeing all the lovely things we got up to so I will be making more time to write about our adventures.

Give the blog a makeover - I've had my blog since 2015 and it hasn't really changed all that much. However since then Erin has come along and these days it's not just Elliot I'm entertaining! I want to create a brand new cover pic that incorporates both children and just tidy it all up a bit.

Make healthier choices - I've recently rejoined Weight Watchers and I'd like to lose a few stone this year but I think it's important to keep the whole family healthy too. I'm going to try and cook from scratch as much as I can and have lots more fruit and veg! (And try and stay off the giant bags of maltesers....!)

Explore our local area - We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, Dorset really does have some stunning scenery. I've lived here all my life but there are still places I've never been to or places where we have only scratched the surface.


See the world - This isn't the easiest with two little ones in tow and school term dates to consider but we have been lucky enough to visit Majorca and Florida twice in the last few years. I do want to visit some new places this year and in April we are all going to Iceland for a short break and I'm so excited about this!



Shop Wisely - This year I need to get better at food shopping and meal planning! I'm really bad at popping into tesco to get a few bits and then needing to go back again the following day to get what I forgot to pick up. I want to do a meal plan for each week and then a dedicated weekly shop to get everything, and not in dribs and drabs. Hopefully this will save us money and save me time too!

Read more - I love reading but the only time I read books is on holiday! I used to read before bedtime to relax me so I think I will start doing this again.

More theatre trips - I love watching shows and would love to see a few more this year. Les Miserables is coming to Southampton so we are going to get tickets for this hopefully, it's my favourite musical!

Go camping - Before we had children we used to camping a couple times a year and it was always fun. I can imagine camping with children is a very different experience but it's something we want to do. We don't even need to travel far as there are lots of campsites in Dorset but I think the kids would have a brilliant time!

Ditch the dummy - Erin loves her "nummy" but I think it's time we got rid of it soon, I hate the dribble it makes her produce!! Think we might just have to go cold turkey but any tips welcomed ;)



Go to more Andy & The Odd Socks shows - Andy and his band are still faves in our house (phew!) and we'd love to go along to a few more shows this year. Elliot's best friend has recently got into them too and we've love to take them along with us, I think they would love it! So Andy, if you're reading, a Dorset show would be fab thanks ;)


Make more use of our National Trust passes - We love our NT pass and have some firm favourite locations that we frequent a lot but this year we are going to visit some places a little further a field. One place I would love to visit is Stourhead in Wiltshire so this is top of the list!

Save Money - I'm a bit rubbish at saving money so I am going to look at some budget plans online to get me started. Blogger Emma Drew has some fantastic resources on her blog so this is going to be my first point of research!

Brighten up the house - Our house is rented so we are a bit restricted in terms of decorating (I hate our lounge, the colours are so dark!) but I want to put up more pictures and maybe change the ones we have up already. We have a big space above our fireplace that is really bare so I'm thinking about a big mirror, or framed picture. Just something to brighten it up! The kid's bedroom also needs sorting too. Last year we put in more storage but we've run out of space for books so I need to get more storage shelves!

See more of my friends - It would be really good to have a few more nights out with friends this year. Usually our catch ups are based around child friendly days out and activities but I think we deserve a few more mum nights out to let our hair down!


So there we go, 19 goals for 2019! What goals have you made this year? 
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