A heart of thankfulness

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What’s really important to you?  What are those things you really want your children to learn to be?  For me I have always wanted my daughter to be kind and I really, really want to instil a heart of thankfulness in her.

I’m not just talking about general politeness, yes I do hope and expect her to say “please” and “thank you”, but I want her to know how utterly blessed she is in all the little and big things in life.  I want her to be thankful for the sun, for the rain, for the flowers, for the stars, for the people in her life, for her toys and her home.  I think when people are thankful for all the things around them it becomes easier to live happily and contentedly.  It becomes easier to focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have.  It’s something I believe you have to work at, learn and try really hard.  A movement of your minds thinking.

I’m hoping that trying really hard to teach her this from a young age will help her to love and care for the people around her and in the world but will also give her a positivity that will drive her through tough times in the future.  Not saying that when tough times come it won’t still sting, but might help move her forward.  I might be talking rubbish but I’m willing to give it a go.  How lovely it is when you are surrounded by positive, thankful people.  I want her to be one of those people who radiate a love of life.

So this lent we are focusing on thankfulness.  Amelie is a lover of art, drawing masses of pictures all day long.  We have used this love to take time out each day to draw a picture of what she is thankful for.  For us we are thanking God, as Christian’s it’s something we recognise comes from someone greater.  But whatever you believe, I think this has been a wonderful activity.  By the end of lent we will have 40 pictures showing what our three year old sees as wonderful in her life.  I am loving it, as is she.  We have the pegged up in the dining room, and I have caught her sitting there thanking God for each of the things she has drawn….from her scooter, to Tim Peak the Astronaut, to her family.

How do you instil thankfulness?

Wooo it’s half term!

Anyone else excited for half term??  I am so super excited to not have to share my daughter with her teachers.  In fact we started our half term yesterday with a trip to the cinema to see The Good Dinosaur, loved it…but glad I took the tissues with us!

I kept telling myself we would keep half term a bit quiet but that quickly went out the window and we have a jammed packed week of fun.  I’m a bit organised this time but in case you’re not quite so organised I thought I’d put a quick blog post together with some suggestions, some might tickle your taste buds.  We’re in Suffolk so these are ones we would do from here.

1, Bury St Edmunds Moyse’s Hall has a Lego Brick City exhibition, looks great fun for any Lego enthusiast.Moyses Hall

2. Stickman Trail at High Lodge, Thetford.  We did this a couple of weeks ago, we loved it.  Lots of activities in the £3 pack bought there or just follow the trail and the boards have lots of suggestions too.  Just beware not to wake the sleeping Gruffalo’s child!  We love High Lodge, great for bikes, great musical forest and so many playgrounds for space for all even during a school holiday!

3. Cambridge museums.  Cambridge has lots of museums to explore, such as the Fitz William or the Science Centre, some will have great things going on for half term.  We’re off to the Science Centre for the first time this half term and it looks great for my wannabe Space Cadet.

Science Centre

Cambridge museums

4.Cambridge Waterstones have some great storytelling and craft times during half term, and weekends during term time.  Last summer we went to a Tiger Tea party and it was a fabulous FREE event.  Story telling and crafts in a brilliant book shop in the centre of the city.  Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages for more information.  I believe they have Thomas The Tank Engine, Winnie the Witch and the Scarecrow Wedding books this week coming.

5. London!  Why not take the train, drive to a tube or Stratford and explore London either central or Docklands/Stratford.  Go along to some of the special events Discover Story Centre have on in Startford (booking is essential, we struggled to get a time we wanted!).  Check our my previous blog posts for more London day out ideas.

6. Ickworth Park National Trust, a bonus if you are a member but a good day out either way.  The snowdrops are out and over half term they have amazing free crafts in the function room upstairs in the house.  We make use of this every school holiday and love it.

Ickworth

7.  Of course there are many many farms to visit locally here, Hollow Tree is a rather lovely one, Wimpole (National Trust) is a favourite with us here.  And the weather looks like it might even be kind to us this half term!!

Hollow Tree Farm

Whatever you do, I’m always wanting to hear of new places to explore so please do share your favourites, my list is designed to be on the inexpensive side, in other words £5 and under per person, money is tight but that doesn’t mean fun can’t be had going for day trips, I realise there is and endless list of activities with a larger budget.

Have a great half term, kids grow up fast so cease this time and make memories…we certainly will and we’ll be making a scrap book to keep those memories clear.  Enjoy!!

(Feel free to share my post of you’ve found it useful)

 

London Docklands

Hello…

It’s been a while, I don’t think I could quite face New Year so decided to just by-pass that one.  But now I’m back on track, have been super busy using nursery mornings to complete sewing orders, which are finally off and life is finding space to breathe!

We have quite a few plans over the coming few weeks for little adventures, of which I will share as we go along, hopefully to inspire some family adventures of your own.  I want 2016 to be the year of serious memory making, exploring and laughing….there wasn’t enough laughter in 2015 so this year needs to work harder on that.  I’m never sure if anyone really ever reads this blog, or finds it interesting or useful…but then I discover the odd few friends who do read and then go on to discover new places.  So I hope this does help.

We started our year of adventures last Saturday with our first trip of the year to London.  One mention of London and Amelie amazingly can get dressed super fast and do as she’s told…amazing!

We decided to explore elsewhere as we so often get drawn to our normal haunts of the Southbank, Science/History museum etc and we want to show Amelie London has so much more.  So off we went to London Docklands.  We looked up free parking spots around Canary Warf and found lots of roads with free parking at weekends.  We had planned to go to the Museum of London Docklands, and venture to Greenwich if time allowed.  We knew we’d also get to ride the DLR lots, which if you get to the front is fun for little ones to pretend to drive the train (they have no drivers!)
IMG_3452On the way down I decided to look into the Emirates Air Line, the cable car that goes over the Thames near to the O2 arena, so we decided to go on that too.  For a capital city ride I was surprised by how reasonable it was, especially if you have an Oyster card, Amelie was free and I believe a single ride was £3.50 each….not bad ey!?  It was worth while, I love getting to see cities from different perspectives and Amelie was glued to the window and absolutely love it!  It would be even better on a less grey day.  We did plan pretty badly and ended up zig zagging on the DLR/tube as we went to Greenwhich to look at the Cutty Sark, we probably would have been better off getting a bus from the O2.

We later went to the museum, (West India Quay DLR).  We had booked a time slot session for the children’s gallery, you can do this online, we possibly could have turned up and got a ticket but busy times would be best to do it online.  It’s not a huge museum so don’t be thinking Science museum size!  It’s free again, as is the children’s gallery and there was a nice coffee shop.

The Children’s gallery is fantastic, full on hands on learning experience.  You get 45 minutes in there which was ok (an hour would be perfect!).  There are large wooden models of the docks with boats and cranes to manoeuvre cargo, there was a small soft play area for littlies, lots of balancing games for cargo, water play, building.  So much hands on stuff and linked to all the docklands work.

The main part of the museum wasn’t hugely interesting for Amelie’s age (3.5yrs old).  Although there was an old sailor town to look at and spices to smell etc.  The rest of the museum is less geared towards young children but I would definitely recommend just going for the children’s gallery.

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So it was a tiring but good day, better planning would have been better, but hey it doesn’t really matter.  We really enjoyed our Eastend day exploring more of London, and Amelie wasn’t too disappointed that she didn’t see Big Ben.  How brilliant is our Capital city with so much free stuff for families to do!

 

(http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/)

https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/fares/emirates-air-line

We’re going on a Bear Hunt…

So, yesterday we took Amelie on a treat day to one of her favourite places.  We visited The Discover Story Centre in Stratford.  This place is brilliant, and its always on my list of places for families with pre-schooler/toddlers to visit.  When it had the Oliver Jeffers exhibition we visited a number of times.  Anywhere that can bring books to life is brilliant in my mind.

So as our Christmas treat we went off to the new Michael Rosen exhibition of ‘Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things’ and also for the interactive storytelling of ‘Percy the Park Keeper’s Winter Park’.

Here’s my thoughts on it!  So Percy the Park Keeper is a massive favourite in our house, for both Amelie and us parents.  Who cannot love stories where the animals are friends with a human!!  This interactive story telling involved Percy’s assistant and a host of his animal friends brought to life in puppetform.  A half hour telling of the story A Stormy Night, and it was lovely.  The puppets are gorgeous and the story teller really brought it to life with a wonderful set.  The children all sit on the “grass” and there are benches for the adults behind.  All the children there were transfixed.  After the story they all got to make a christmas bauble, we liked this time as it was great to have a conversation about the story…and try to decide which animal we loved best (was it the badger or fox…I just can’t decide!).

We booked for Bear Hunt straight after.  Now here’s the thing to note…at weekends it obviously gets very busy so they are ticketed entrance and have a time limit on….if you go midweek its open after 3 and not limited time!  We found the 40 minutes too short to really play and explore so we’ll be returning midweek some time.  However, it was very good and there was a story teller who took us on the Bear Hunt getting everyone interacting with this children’s classic.

The basement is all dark and mysterious and you explore the stages of the book until you find the dark cave…I won’t spoil it for you…I’ll let you discover whats in the cave!😉

It is lovely, and it sparked my three year olds imagination, and I do get why it’s timed, but for her 40 minutes wasn’t enough when a good chunk of this is taken with the story teller (who was great I might add!).

After all this we just squeezed in enough time to explore the main centre and fantastic play area in the garden.

Some practical tips…

If going at the weekend, we booked Percy (just on before Christmas) and booked Bear Hunt at the same time for the next slot (e.g. 1.30 Percy and 2.20 Bear Hunt), this timing worked perfectly.  You get entry into the Discover centre with the Percy ticket so makes sense to book your Bear Hunt too.

If you just want the Bear Hunt, go midweek if you can.

For people not local to Stratford, like us…it is so easy to find.  From Westfield Stratford its just over the bridge, through the train station and over the main road!

Here’s the link to the site…Discover Children’s Story Centre

Advent moments

December is so very nearly upon us, which means Advent is in full swing.  Advent to me is just as important to Christmas day itself.  It’s the preparation time, a time to reflect and remember.

Christmas, and advent means different things to different people.  In our house, and in my life Christmas is all about Jesus, remembering that God gave us a gift of a baby which changed history and lives.  For other its about family, presents, indulging and much more.

I want to make advent a time when I get to spend more intentional time with Amelie, opportunities to share the Christmas story with her and just enjoy making memories.  So last year I filled an advent calendar with pockets with little cards with activities.  Last year this was brilliant (a little time consuming but worth it).  So we are doing the same again this year, modified to suit age, finances, and time.  I’m going to share my list in case you want to steal it al, or ideas from it.

  1. Write to Father Christmas (get it posted straight away to Royal Mail and you might get a letter back!)
  2. Angel Craft- paint a toilet roll white, add a face, sparkly pipe cleaner for halo and handprint wings.
  3. School trip to make a Santa grotto.
  4. Jesus handprint craft (find on Pinterest)
  5. Collect pinecones in the forrest for a garland.
  6. Go to a winter story telling at the Story Centre
  7. Start to Decoupage our NOEL letters
  8. Make salt dough decorations.
  9. Christmas tree crafts (Pinterest again)
  10. Buy a decoration to hang on the tree (she gets to choose one every year)
  11. Paint our salt dough decorations
  12. Buy our Christmas tree
  13. Family carol service.
  14. Make Christmas shapes with playdough
  15. Walk around town to look at the Christmas lights
  16. Make some aper chains
  17. Wisemen crafts (either with lollypop sticks or collage with shapes)
  18. Christmas colouring in sheets
  19. Jingle bel crafts
  20. Carol service
  21. Christmas film and popcorn
  22. Christmas baking
  23. Gingerbread house decorating
  24. Crib service.
  25. CHRISTMAS DAY!

It should be really fun!  We have also bought her the Playmobil nativity scene to encourage retelling the story through play, I hope she loves it and it helps her to learn the story and understand what Christmas means to us.

I can barely believe that December starts tomorrow, tis year is flying by.  I hope you all have a great advent time.

Just the Two of Us- National Infertility Awareness Week

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It’s amazed me how little this week has been highlighted in the press. Infant loss week was very highly publicised, rightly so, but why is infertility still a taboo, why is is kept quiet still…making couples facing this horrific time feeling more shamed and alone. Shhhh you don’t want to mention it and make others feel awkward.

1 in 6 couples in the UK experience fertility issues. That’s a lot. I’ve written a few times about our own journey. This time four years ago we had just had a positive pregnancy test after years of trying and being successful with IVF. For us this is now it, without funds to support more IVF attempts we have to accept that infertility is part of our lives, tough as that is facts are facts.

But it’s not just about the two of us, my husband and I didn’t share our struggles with anyone pre-child, it felt embarrassing, painful, shameful and topped off whit a sense of failing at the “perfect” marriage. It felt like it was about the two of us. But infertility is never just about the two of you, so many people are involved. I remember feeling desperately sad each time my parents told me another of their friends were becoming grandparents, I felt like it was my fault that they would never have that experience, I felt like I was depriving them from the joy grandchildren would bring. It’s a natural step in life, you have children then you become grandparents. Even now, I am so thankful I was able to give them the gift of a grandchild, but I know they long for more.

Then there are your friends, the awkwardness of how much to to share about pregnancy, how do you announce to someone who can’t get pregnant that you are pregnant?! I personally hate going on to social media to have scan photos thrust into my sight, scan photos are so personal and special. I remember having ultrasound scans for tests and feeling angry that it should have been a baby scan. Those friends who take the time to pre-warn you are amazing, who take the time to say, hey you know I have some happy news, I accept this may be really hard for you. Those friends who accept you may not be the right friend to share every struggle of pregnancy with. It’s not that we are not thrilled for you….it’s just really hard when you have to watch someone else experience the joy you are desperate for. At the same time we don’t want to be ignored, don’t leave us out of baby conversations. If in doubt be frank and ask how much does your friend want to know and be involved. Acknowledging someone’s infertility is so so much better than treating it as a taboo. It is part of someone’s life, and a big part too.

Of course, for us, it’s not just family and friends but also our daughter. She is just starting to play sibling games with her toys, and I am very, painfully, aware that this is one part we can’t fulfil for her. Our infertility changes her life too, it makes her a bigger blessing to us, but also means she will be an only child.

Infertility sucks, it’s a drain on each day, I guess one day it gets easier, when there are less pregnancies and new babies surrounding you, but it will always be a mark on your life.
But I am aware the pain doesn’t stop with my husband and me, it has a rippling effect, for those it also hurts…sorry, sorry we can’t provide longed for children, but we try each day to make it ok.

People show extra love to your friends who are struggling as we acknowledge infertility this week.

Dear Amelie, as you start nursery…

To my dear Amelie,

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is in fact three and started nursery tomorrow.  You brilliantly beautiful girl- you bring sunshine and smiles to our days and now you get to bring that to others.  I am so so proud of the strong, funny, caring, clever little girl you are growing up to be.  You were an answer to many many prayers and a true blessing to our lives.  Something makes me think you will be a blessing to many more people too, there is something about that infectious smile you have.

I wanted to share some thoughts with you as you start the next chapter of your life and an exciting journey independently to me.  This is the time for you to shine, to flourish as Amelie without me holding you back in anyway, sorry if I have…its hard not to be over protective as a mummy.  Do not let anyone hold you back from being you.  Explore what you love doing, what you are great at and those things you may struggle with.

Do not be afraid to explore…even if you fail, you will not find those incredible things and talents that life provides without daring to explore first.  And if you do fail at certain things, it is not true failure as in the journey you will learn new things about yourself and be shaped into something more beautiful along the way.

Be a good friend.  Everyone wants to have special friends around them who will hold them up when times are tough, to laugh until you cry with, to learn with and to love.  But, to have those friends you yourself must be one of them.  Surround yourself with people who love you just the way you are, and learn to love those around you for just the way they are.  You do not have to be best friends with everyone, but you should always respect everyone, in return hope they respect you too.

Have courage and be courageous.  Its ok if you have a wobble tomorrow, its ok if you feel scared, nervous…or excited along with them.  It is in no way a poor reflection on you if you shed some tears, no one will judge you.  I’m feeling a bit of all of those too, thats ok.  You will be just fine.  Be courageous and know that you are wonderful, that this is the beginning of an exciting adventure, where you will learn new things, make new friends and make me prouder each day!

I love you little lady.  Be the star I know you are.

Mummy x