Thursday, 30 October 2014

Dressing a 4 Year Old Boy to Stay Warm and Dry

I was very tardy with getting boy's Winter clothes for Aaron, this year, namely because September was like an Indian Summer (way better than August) driest on record in fact. Some of October was nearly just as good. 

But then some rain came, and then some more, but lucky I was ready with Dickies Water Proofs that I'd had sent for review. We love them, and more importantly they keep Aaron dry! We'd learned the hard way that a normal shower jacket, doesn't have elasticated cuffs, or a drawstring hood, which meant he was miserable when wet. All sorted now though. Since that review we have now tried the hi vis waistcoat which is perfect for our daily #SchoolPedal:
That pic above was taken on the last day of term (I say TERM as there are now six school terms a year, so as much as we call this current very welcome week off "half term" this is technically no longer true). So yes, on Friday 24th October it rained from the HEAVENS, so I even needed to put the water proof trousers on, as you see above. They are a necessity when cycling. You get wet incredibly quickly when the rain is heavy.

So now that he has the right clothes for rain, I needed to deal with warmth. You can see two hoods in the pic above, as the Dickies water proof is a shell, (on a mild day sufficient on its own) so on a cold day I layer. The jacket below is one I picked up for 12 pounds in Primark. I hate to see children in grey, black, navy or brown Winter jackets and have always dressed Aaron colourfully since he was born, hence I was delighted with the tartan detail on the shoulders AND the fact that Aaron's school has no rules regarding outdoor coats, so I can actually be as colourful as I like. The jacket below is aged 7-8 and is not at all big on him. I have a very tall 4 year old (and he only turned 4 in June). Being that he is now fitting into that aged group I have to go to an older boy section of Primark, and the colours are naturally all darker than for the younger ones. Luckily I love the jacket and it is warm. I went there to scoop a bargain, but ended up spending over 50 pounds, as it is HARD to go into PRIMARK for one thing. What I saved on the jacket I ended up spending on a body warmer, as I couldn't resist the large A on it, which I could pretend was for Aaron.
12 pounds in the older boy section of Primark
So Daddy took us to Primark the other day so I could get the Winter jacket above (amongst other things ooops). BUT the other day when we were out shopping as a family once again, I made my "boys" accompany me to TK Maxx where I got the below (top left). (1) The knitwear (I want something like it myself) (2) The Donald Duck long sleeved tee (purely because Aaron says the word CRAZY a LOT and (3) the other long sleeved tee you see there, because it is dead COOOOOOL! Being that it was TK Maxx all of the prices were very reasonable. Shopping as a 3 is great, as when Aaron gets distracted, I can still concentrate with Daddy there as an extra pair of hands. While I picked those 3 TK Maxx bits, Daddy and Aaron were in the toy section.

You can see the body warmer that I mentioned above, in the pics below. You wouldn't know it from the photos, but under the bottom warmer, he is wearing the seasonal cardigan AND the long sleeved tee with the winged "flying" boots. I love layering for staying warm. All of the below were taken on a lovely family day out with Daddy. Luckily he's had some time off in half term which has been GREAT!
Love my gorgeous boy. His Winter wardrobe is building up nicely.

Oh and I bought those blue shoes in H and M over the Summer. For some reason they were only 4.99 GBP and I love them! They're my favourite shops all in one post actually. H and M, Primark and TK Maxx. The places where I get all my favourite bits for Aaron.

Liska xxx

P.S. Here are some individual pics of those three TK Maxx pieces so you can see the detail and the pricing


Whatever happens, my boy, my son, is always dressed better than me:

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Pears Golden Moments Competition. We Time Beats Me Time Hands Down.

Pears is an iconic traditional British brand, the originator of those quintessential British soap posters we all know and love.

This year Pears is celebrating their 225th year.

In August I was one of 30 lucky Mums who got wired up to technology to measure brain activity and physiological responses. Luckily despite my rather fetching headband, the beautiful environment we were in and the team we were with, both put us at ease, as you can clearly see in the pics. 
We were tested to see which everyday activities would give us the maximum feel good moment, the most relaxation. You would think it would be the "me time" when we got to read a magazine, have a session of reflexology, or spend some time on social media, but no it was the "we time" with our children that prompted our most joyful responses, as indicated on the computers we were wired up to.

Aaron came with me and had a lovely afternoon in Covent Garden. We'd actually also been there the night before for an Ice Cream Sandwich event.
From all of the activities we did in Covent Garden that day in August, Pears was able to put together a Pears' Golden Moments Scale for Mums.
  • simple cuddle from our child unanimously gave mums a ‘feel good’ highpoint which topped the Golden Moments Scale
  • Giving our child a small gift and watching them open it gave us a major boost, ranking 3rd on the Pears Golden Moments Scale.
  • Checking Facebook scores lowest on the scaleIn a world where digital escapism is increasingly mum’s easiest form of ‘me time’, Pears Soap found that this has the least positive impact on our emotional well-being – with Facebook and online clothes hopping coming bottom, and even making mums feel emotionally tired. 

Sloan Sheridan-Williams, Relationship expert, said: There are six emotional needs that determine personal happiness: Comfort, Variety, Love, Significance, Contribution and Personal Growth. ‘Me time’ can rarely tick all of these, but ‘We time’ has the potential to fulfil many more; the cuddle task came out on top and ticks a lot of these needs. Also, the fairy cake decorating scored highly and you could see the mums lighting up as they helped their child in this task.”
Rajneesh Varma, a spokesperson for Pears Soap, said: “Mums are often run ragged juggling several occupations and indulging in ‘Me time’ has long been cited as an immediate tonic. However, our research shows that it is actually everyday activities spent with their children, such as a bed-time story or decorating a fairy cake, that give mums a heightened sense of pleasure and emotional worth, and leaves them feeling and looking more vibrant long after they have completed the task.”

Pears says:
The scale is welcome news for mums today on ‘Blue Mum-Day’ - the most stressful day of the year for mums according to statisticians - when a combination of dark nights drawing in, holiday 
debt still to pay off and half-term child-care planning creates a tipping point in mums’ stress levels.
From the results Pears have concluded that the quickest route to happiness for Mums is:

A hug 
decorating a cake with your child 
a massage

Aaron is proudly carrying the cake we decorated together, in the pictures above. I love that the icing looks like a fish.

The findings of their experiment with us resonate with me really well. When I come home from dropping Aaron at school, I sometimes spend a couple of hours on social media, and when I come off it I do feel drained, and all of the housework and items on my to-do list are still there!

The time we spent together with Pears in August further reinforced to me that time needs to mean something, and quality time spent with my son certainly does. I am very grateful for the photos that Pears took that day, and have kindly shared with me, below.

These are the activities that scored highly, that included physical contact with our children: decorating a cake with them, washing their hands (with Pears handwash naturally), giving them a gift (kindly provided by Pears - a task which ranked 3rd on the Pears Golden Moments Scale) and giving them a cuddle. Activities that included physical contact.







Luckily I limit time on social media as I worked out a long time ago, that as much as I sometimes need a break from Aaron he is also the source of my joy! So as much as I often crave me time, when I get it, I often count down the hours and minutes till I see him again.

If you feel the same, and have a "Golden Moment" that you share with your child/children (and often these are everyday activities) then please share your moment in my blog comments below.


About My Blog Competition
This competition will be open to UK residents.
The "prize" is 50 pounds of John Lewis vouchers AND a goodie bag of Pears products. Please enter via Rafflecopter below

There are big prizes also up for grabs on PearsEurope Facebook, which you can navigate to, via Rafflecopter below. Over on Pears Europe Facebook:
Prizes: There will be one winner each week who will win a spot prize, and another winner who will win the star prize. (Five winners in total across the whole promotional period). Spot prizes include a family adventure experience, a family photo-shoot, a trip to Harry Potter Land for family of 4 and a trip to the Zoo for family of 4. The star prize will be a family holiday courtesy of a Thomson Holidays vouchers to the value of £2000. The Ts and Cs of that Facebook comp.

Good luck. I'd love you to watch the video about this Pears Golden Moments experiment. You may *coughs* see a couple of people you recognise #ProudFace


About Pears:
Pears soap, invented in 1789 in London, is the World’s oldest soap brand and owned by Unilever. Over the past 100 years, Pears have perfected the technology of hand crafting a bathing soap that preserves the youthfulness of skin using pure glycerine, oils and natural ingredients. The Pears philosophy of celebrating unadulterated beauty comes shining through in its iconic, core product; the Amber Bar tablet soap. Following its long-standing success, an extensive product range now includes Pears Hand wash, Shower Gel and Oil Clear Bar with further products launching in 2014, all of which have the same energising, rejuvenating effect on users.

Designed to take care of all skin types and all ages, Pears’ products are dermatologically tested, contain no animal derived products or colours and are safe to use on sensitive, delicate skin, adding moisture back in rather than taking it away. Established as the world’s first marketed transparent soap, Pears have crafted their purpose around the idea that true beauty is in its natural, pristine state; a defining principle which is embodied the iconic unblemished, transparency of its products.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Wind Rain and Cold is Defining October. Get Under Cover.

We were BLESSED with sunny blue skies and good temperatures for the whole of September and even a chunk of October but the wind, rain, and cold have now firmly arrived.

Luckily, I was ready with water proofs, so the rain didn't see Aaron getting wet bless him.
In his Dickies Water Resistant Jacket and wellies
As you can see from MY feet above, I wasn't quite so lucky. WHY was I wearing sandals with a SUEDE wedged heel in such conditions? Well simply because the elevation of the heel helps my plantar fasciitis, and means I can actually walk instead of hobble. Thankfully Daddy has now bought me boots, as an Anniversary gift, so problem solved:
They are fabulous. They mean I can walk pain free for hours AND I can even cycle in them!

Doing the #SchoolPedal Without Getting Wet
When the first onset of rain came, I had Aaron wearing this jacket:
I thought he was the Bees Knees (LOOK at the jacket and you will see the pun is very much intended). I thought the YELLOW of it meant he was very visible on his bike, and that the plastic of it would mean he was water proof.

It takes BAD wind and rain, added with a bit of dim light and you really get the measure of whether something is weather appropriate!

Being YELLOW is NOT enough. In dark mornings and evenings, especially when cycling, HI VIS is required.

So here's what we now have in our new Dickies Store Vermont Water Resistant children's jacket:

  • A draw string hood.... this is SO necessary! The other day Aaron cycled home wearing the jacket you see above. The wind was in our faces, so the hood kept being blown off. Aaron dealt with this by cycling, one hand on the bike handlebars, and one hand on the hood. This began quite near home so alarming as it was, being a confident cyclist, I let him. I felt a bit stupid given that we already owned our new jacket at this point, but had out of habit gone out with the yellow one. Lesson learned though! By the way the hood DOES fully cover his head and curls, he was just being a very unwilling model in the photos below.
  • Elasticated cuffs! The first time Aaron tried it on, it was the VERY first thing he noticed. He said "this is like an apron" - you know the ones they paint in at school. They are so needed for wind and rain though, and you'll see that they are lacking in the jacket above (which incidentally satisfactorily got us through many a sunny rainy day - it's just not built for Autumn/Winter).
  • Hi Vis stripes, which you'll see "DickiesStore" refer to below as "reflective tape detailing". They ARE quite high vis though, as you'll see in the pic of Aaron with his best friend below.
  • A zip, with storm cover buttons on a flap ON TOP. The above jacket only has buttons.
  • All of the seams are sealed, as you see in one of the "inside out" pics below.
  • It's a suit so it comes WITH TROUSERS. So needed for cycling, when your legs are more exposed and your thighs are horizontal!
  • A good roomy hood, that folds into the collar, when not in use!
All of the water resistant details of a Dickies Jacket
What the brand's description says about it:

DickiesStore Children’s Vermont Water Resistant Suit benefits from all the features the adult suit has. With draw cord adjustments and elasticated cuffs providing all round weather protection.
  • Three colour options.
  • Manufactured from hardwearing PVC.
  • Two pockets.
  • Mesh buggy lining to keep warm.

With even more detail given in the specification:
Jacket
  • Zip fastened front with studded stormflap.
  • Elasticated cuffs.
  • Tail hem with drawcord adjustment.
  • Two jet pockets.
  • Reflective tape detailing.
  • Raglan sleeves.
  • Fabric: 100% polyester PVC waterproof fabric with tape welded seams.
Trousers
  • Full elasticated waist.
  • Side pocket access.

The ABSOLUTE best part of the Dickie's jacket is that it comes with trousers. The day above, where I said we cycled home with him in his yellow jacket, his legs got soaked. I said to him "Aaron that wouldn't have happened with your other jacket as it comes with water proof trousers" so we both agreed we'd be sticking with that from now on. 

The good thing is, I cycle with a rucksack, so it's easy to always have water proofs in there, for those times when rain catches you by surprise.

There are other reasons that all of this is required. Firstly the clocks go back this weekend (remember it is FALL BACK and SPRING FORWARD), and secondly, every Friday we cycle to and from football practice so even when it wasn't dark for our #SchoolPedal home from school, it WAS by the time we got back from football and will be even more so now with the Winter evenings :-( so all of the hi vis and weather protection is very much necessary.

Oh the absolute irony of me calling this post "Get Under Cover" after what happened THIS morning. We were about 12 minutes late for school, which meant the path up to school was full of nursery children, their buggies and their parents and we struggled to get passed them all. They start at 09:00 and we start at 08:45 so it was our fault for being late. Anyway when I was closing the gate from the path to the bike shed, I was moaning to myself, under my breath, about how none of the Mums had made it easy for Aaron to get passed, even though  their school doors weren't even open yet, and therefore it would have cost them nothing to let him passed, instead of driving their buggies like the footpath equivalent of a Land Rover that owns the road. Anyway a dad was looking over at me, and I thought he was genuinely intrigued or sympathetic. No, once I locked the bikes and walked down the other path to school, I finally got the chance to look down, and two of the buttons on my blouse had popped open, so ............. I guess the advice in this post, about wrapping up, should be swallowed whole by yours truly too. I might not be famous but I certainly experienced one of those wardrobe malfunction thingy thingies!!!!!!!! #Yikes

Today, it was very dry as we left, although the pavements and roads were wet so it clearly rained overnight. As it was a bit chilly I put on Aaron's new Winter Coat, and wanted to put his DickiesStore rain jacket on top but he wouldn't let me. It's okay though, as it is light enough to carry in a rucksack for when needed.

For times like that, when he needs a coat for warmth, but it is not raining (or snowing), he doesn't have anything hi vis in his new (Primark) winter coat, so what I will be doing is putting his new Hi Vis Children's Waistcoat on top of his Winter Coat. I haven't got pictures of him in that yet, but will add some within 24 hours.

So now he has the DickiesStore Children's Water Resistant Suit (only 13.50 GBP) AND a Primark Winter Jacket (only 12 GBP) so for wet days he only needs the former, for dry days he only needs the latter, and for those days where it is cold, windy AND wet, he can wear the two together. We've done this type of layering the last 2 Winters (with other jackets) and it really works, but as it's been about 8 months since Aaron's been layered up like that, when I put them both on together yesterday, he said he felt like a "hot air balloon" - he took them off so quick, I didn't even get a photo. I know my boy though, when the temperatures REALLY drop he'll be putting them both on VERY willingly and then I will be on the hunt for a hat, gloves and scarf, which is next on my never ending shopping list!
Winter Jackets for Boys

Even though Aaron only turned 4 in June, both jackets, the DickiesStore one and the Primark one, are both in sizes 7-8 and neither of them are too big, although they are roomy enough that they will definitely see him through the Winter months in all conditions :-)

I forgot to say, Aaron has a very large head. In fact the circumference of it was why I needed a C-section. I was very impressed that the hood on the Dickies Store jacket was deep enough to accommodate him:
Liska xx

Disclosure: We were sent the DickiesStore suit and the DickiesStore hi vis waistcoat for the purposes of this review. We bought the Primark jacket ourselves. We love all of them and every word here is my own.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Daddy's Perfect Gift A Personalised Photo Calendar from Us

A long time ago, I used to know that personalised photo gifts make the best presents. I was an early adopter of digital photography, proudly purchasing my first Sony Cybershot in Japan in 2004, before it was even released in the UK. I am now on my 3rd Sony Cybershot, as I love them so much. We actually went shopping to Akihabara in Japan (their Tottenham Court Road) so that I could snap up a bargain and I did. Obviously we were already in the country LOL. We also went to Disney Land whilst there - I am yet to meet a person who knows that there's a Disney Land anywhere other than America! I think that camera was the equivalent of 350 pounds, which incidentally I would not pay for a camera now! Back then memory cards were REALLY dear, and the amount of memory space was a 100th of what we expect now!

Many moons ago I made a calendar for Daddy and he adored it. Actually, speaking of Japan, a couple of the pics in there are from that trip, that's how long ago I made it. I've just managed to find THAT calendar on my photobox.co.uk account (despite not having the first clue where it is in the house) - I feel all nostalgic now. I created it for Valentine's Day 2005, so I have been using digital photography and personalised creations for quite some time. Thanks to finding it on my account I can even see what photos I put in it. Wow I looked young and slim back then!
It had pictures like this in it:
DSC00087 - Click to view full size photoDSC00067 - Click to view full size photo

I've recently rediscovered how well received personalised gifts are. My Mother in Law was 70 recently and I got "our" beloved Grandma "photo" gifts and a personalised photo birthday card (did you know Photobox now does cards). She adored those gifts, especially as there were lots of pics of the grandkids. I don't think I could have got quite that reaction with any other presents.

With that in mind, and how much Daddy raved about the calendar I once made him, I think another would make the perfect gift for his imminent birthday. Last time I got it so that he could turn the pages (with the changing of the month) to be enamoured with a delightful picture of me on each and every page, but this time I think he needs it to schedule some important dates on, so we all know where we are, with all our comings and goings:
Mens memories are worse at remembering names dates and plans

Last time it was unashamedly full of pictures of me, but I think this time, there'd be a lot of Aaron in there.

I best get cracking making it as his birthday is relatively soon. I've made a start on the cover:
Personalised Photo Calendar cover at Photobox
I am creating the personalised calendar using photobox - I became a loyal customer and fan back in 2005. Their photo calendars are really affordable and just like with real calendars in the shop, there's lots of choice. What I really love is that you can start it on any month. As November is going to be crazy busy for us, I am starting it from then. We seem to need more organisation now, with Aaron starting school, and us all having so many social engagements, so I think this will be a very functional gift that we will be sharing - sorry Daddy!

A personalised photo gift is great on so many levels. If you pick the photos wisely, it can be a stunning gift. As it takes work to put it together, to choose the photos, you are also in effect gifting your time, in such a loving way, similar to a handmade crafted gift. For me, Daddy doesn't often see the photos that are on my computer, so this is a way of getting them OUT of the computer to a place where he can see and enjoy them on a daily basis. After all they are not JUST photos. They are beautiful records of moments captured for posterity.

Also, there are only so many pictures you can frame and put up before you run out of walls ha ha! Although, clearly there is a place for that too, as shown by the canvas below which my Dad has had on the wall, pride of place, ever since Xmas Eve last year.

I am going to make 80% of it as pictures of Aaron and Daddy, but fling in 1 or 2 of me and Aaron as I know Daddy will love those, as I have a couple of really nice ones (including the cover above). You can see the pics I ended up finalising on below.

I am making the calendar whilst writing this post, and so far I have made the cover and November to March. The website has just asked me to "save" my creation. That's great as I wouldn't want to lose what I have done so far, as I am putting a lot of thought into which photo to choose for each month.

This time last year I was using a different computer, so I don't have access to many historical photos. So I am not doing that thing of using a November photo for November, etc... or a Christmas photo for December.

Although putting sufficient thought into it, to choose and upload the perfect photo for each month, can take a couple of hours, especially when there are as many photos to look through as I have, I'd much prefer that to hopping on a bus and trudging* round the shops, especially with my bad foot and today's wind and rain. I think online shopping is the way to go, for Christmas gifts too!

I am glad to see trudging means what I thought it did ha ha!

trudge
trʌdʒ/
verb
gerund or present participle: trudging
  1. walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions.

I love that photo box tells you if each photo is a "good quality image" as it is hard, with the size of photos you seen when designing, to know if they will transfer to an A3 calendar and still look good. I have deliberately chosen shots with good lighting etc...

While I was designing the calendar just now, an offer code kept popping up so I thought I would screenshot it for you, in case you dear reader are now inspired to make a personalised photo creation. 

You could be like me doing it for an imminent birthday

OR 

one of those annoyingly organised people who have already started shopping for Christmas. 

Oh and Christmas last year saw me using Photobox, as I bought my Dad a beautiful canvas photo from there. Thank God they fast tracked it for me; it arrived on Christmas Eve, I do cut things fine! I wouldn't recommend putting that level of stress on yourself though, as it is in the hands of Royal Mail as well as Photobox. But then I did the same for the pics for Grandma recently. Her birthday was Sunday and the pics arrived the day before on Saturday. Thankfully I remained in touch with the wonderful twitter account: @photobox_help when I was having kittens about my last minute order.


These are the photos I have chosen for Daddy's October Birthday personalised photo calendar:
But that really is the easiest way to do it. Make an ALBUM for the calendar and then simply drag, drog, each image into it. These are not staged posey pictures that I have chosen but rather captured moments that I know will jog Daddy's memory regarding special days out.

What's your perfect gift idea? I think I will be making a gift for ME soon, and it will be a personalised photo diary. One, I am desperate for a diary, and two, I would love something close to hand, that I am forced to look at every day, with pictures of me and Aaron, as in his 4 years on this planet this is the first year where we have managed to get some really gorgeous pictures of the 2 of us, and I would love to release them from the confines of my computer. I think I would opt for their Deluxe Photo Diary which is their best seller.

The reason I want a diary is because I keep experiencing the Frustration of Forgetting. Click on that "bootcamp for your brain link", as it is very interesting. The infographic it takes you to, shows that more MEN forget names, dates and plans than women, and is the source for the image earlier in this post. I know I have gone notoriously bad at remembering things since childbirth. Despite him being 4 years old, baby brain is still alive and kicking, but it seems men suffer too, perhaps with a different cause. I think they are just space cadets sometimes and just don't listen to the "date" or "plan" in the first place.

So I hope Daddy makes good use of the calendar - what a functional gift! As soon as I get chance I will design and then make use of the diary. Maybe we will both be where we are meant to when we are meant to from now on. Never miss an appointment again ha ha! To be fair, we never do, we just have to chase our tails a lot, which could be avoided with better planning.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Learning in the Forest and On The Go

We didn't have any school on Friday as it was a teacher training day so we were able to travel further afield and have a day out that involved a bit of a trek and a very early start, but it was so worth it.

Ironically given that it was a no school day, we went to Forest School. Aaron and I are very outdoorsie so it really appealed to us both.

He made friends quickly :-) (His new friend resembled Wilson in the Tom Hank's film Castaway ha ha)!
Ah I am jesting. He loved playing with the other kids:

Here, they were all in a Den and Aaron decided the teacher wasn't allowed in, and said she would have to blow the house down (like in the 3 little pigs) - although this wasn't the impenetrable brick house in the story, she tried but couldn't manage it ;-)
When we first arrived, we spent quite some time in the car park, and it was tough trying to stop Aaron from running straight into the forest. He wanted to explore immediately. Given that it was Forest School, some sit down time was required, in a circle. Once the fire was lit, adhering to some rules was crucial. I had to ask Aaron to sit down (and not run across the circle) a few times. What made me chuckle when I looked at the photos, was how far back his stick/marshmallow was. The boy who was so brave to run near the fire, was a bit more restrained in his toasting method LOL. As I knew it'd be me eating it, I do remember asking him to go nearer, which he did #Yummy.
So now you know, my Silent Sunday photo was definitely marshmallow not mushroom :-) I won't repeat the photo again, but it is worth clicking "older post" below, as it is a photo I am dead proud of.

The main "task" that the kids had to do, to earn their fireside marshmallow in biscuits, was to forage for things that were listed on a laminate. Here's the teacher talking us through what we had to find:

She gave them a cardboard cup each to pop their treasures into, and they all concentrated really well while they looked around. I helped for a while as I was looking forward to finding these (below) as the teacher had creatively called them "fairy wings" and that was me and my imagination motivated to find them. Alas, after hunting for 15 minutes, I found none on the forest floor, BUT this morning, 3 days later, there were millions of the things on the tarmac surrounding Aaron's classroom at school.
I'd said to someone that they are sycamore leaves, but it turns out, after a little bit of research I now discover they fall from maple trees. Do you remember spinning them in a helicopter way when you were little?

Aaron I think would quite happily spend the whole day in the forest. He was very happy to be there:
The event was billed to be 10:30 11:30 but I think we over- ran which was good, as we were all rather chilled out in there, especially as there was tea/coffee and cookies. The teacher's friendly assistant then showed us the way to Ashton Court so that we could all continue on our day. Us free range Mums and free range kids weren't ready to be tucked up back at home just yet, so we made a day of it!

The kids barely knew we were there they played so so much, we couldn't even get them to join us for lunch. If Aaron had been better behaved it would have been complete bliss, as we were actually able to talk whilst they all played.

We found ourselves in a cafe, that had a complimentary soft play area. At first glance it looked so small (2 metres by 3 metres) you'd think it would entertain them for 5 minutes but it was more like 4 hours.
The main thing they seemed to love doing was climbing up onto that worktop, followed by jumping off it. If they were city kids, who spent all day indoors, there would no doubt have been an accident at some point. The law of averages were against us, with there being so many of them, their ages, and the long amount of time we were there. Thankfully given that, not only are they free range kids, but they are also #CountryKids, they hopped up and down there with ease. I don't think the designers of said play area intended it to be a climbing frame, but us Mums were happy for them to use it in that way #yikes. Actually city kids could probably cope with it too, as long as they are kids who are allowed to climb. I remember my city cousin climbing a book case when she was only 2 or 3. She could literally climb to the top and then perch up there like a bird. She's now, 20 years later, at the gym 5 times a week. I think being active stays with you. The biggest set back to an active kid, is an over protective parent. Play, and climbing, are like physio to growing children as it is what builds their frame, their physique and their stamina. I strongly believe that. Aaron cycles to school nearly every day, and attends football practice every Friday. I do intend on getting him into a martial arts class too. I used to be a Yoga Teacher. His being active and healthy is very important to me. As important as his emotional and academic development. It all goes hand in hand.

It was comforting to be able to actually start and finish lunch whilst it was still warm. A rather delicious Venison Burger, which I didn't spot on the menu but I copied Adele. It was also wonderful to talk with such inspiring intelligent ladies over lunch, whilst Aaron enjoyed the company of their children. Thank you Adele, Carolin, and Laura. I shouldn't complete this post without mentioning Jane - she didn't join us for lunch, but it was lovely to see her in the forest. She took a GORGEOUS photo on her DLSR of Aaron which I can't wait to see again.
Funny, but after years of him not being interested in drawing or writing, he has spent the last fortnight writing every spare moment he gets. He's leapfrogged to where he would be, had he started sooner. Proof that you don't need to cram things into them before they are ready. I can't wait to see where his accelerated academic learning takes him.

We recently went on a really long car journey and he spent the whole car journey writing. He asked me to write each name of a child in his class and he copied every single one. He kept asking me how I knew how to spell their names bless him. I wasn't prepared for this "school" session in the car, so he had to do all of his spontaneous writing on my newspaper:
You just have to love his ringlets - love Aaron's hair!!!

So yes, school, learning, can be wherever it takes you. Climbing the walls, learning in the forest, writing in the car, or within the walls of a regular classroom. Given my many years of teaching yoga, you would think I would be into Home Ed, but I don't think I have enough of a sense of routine or self discipline for it. Anyway, Aaron adores school.

Wild Foresters who hosted our morning in the forest, run Wild Forester birthday parties and are also running Halloween half-term Activities in the Woods:
A bit of background:
Forest Schools originated in Sweden in the 1950s and spread to other countries, particularly Denmark where they have become an important part of the Danish early years programme.

In a typical Danish Forest School, young children from 3 years are taken into the forest for 4 hours each day of the week. They take no toys with them, but instead use only what the forest provides (and their imaginations) to develop their games. Activities are child led and fun, such as finding small animals or stomping in puddles (Mummy fail I forgot to put Aaron's wellies on on Friday but thankfully it remained dry until the evening). Because of high adult to child ratios, children can safely try out activities which are often considered too dangerous such as climbing trees or lighting fires, and by dressing the children in good protective clothing they are able to play freely, sitting and rummaging in mud and undergrowth. By setting children small manageable tasks at which they are unlikely to fail, and giving genuine praise, children's independence and confidence grows (yes, although the big kid I am, I am sure my not finding the fairy wings will not dent my confidence ;-) ).

Being that this post is very much a #CountryKids kind of post I will also tell you:

There's lots of inspiration for outdoor fun and learning over at Coombe Mill's Country Kids.


 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall