Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Maintaining our activity levels over the summer holidays!

As the summer holidays have begun and our daily school runs fall by the wayside, I'm keen to make sure that we keep our exercise levels up!  I for one notice very quickly when we're off school and I lose those three walks a day!  My fitbit step count is suddenly considerably lower!  I often look at my kids running everywhere and wish I still felt that excited about life!  I've always been keen to get my children out of their pushchairs and walking from a fairly early age - in part as there's usually been another baby on the way who needs the seat!  What this does mean though is that all three kids are really "good" walkers - they walk at a fair pace, for a good distance without too much moaning!  My Mum always says how proud my Grandad would be of them for that - he always loved a good walk!

1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 are overweight . . . that's a seriously scary statistic and one I have no desire for my children to be part of.  My own weight and fitness levels leave something to be desired and I really don't want them to be following in my footsteps.

Where the blame for this situation lies I'm not sure - perhaps as parents we are not setting the right example, perhaps we are not strict enough with our children's diets, perhaps we're just not getting them outside enough?  Or, perhaps the blame lies with schools and poor PE or outdoor play provision?  Perhaps it's a lack of education for us as adults as to the negative effects of being overweight and what we can or should be doing about it?  Or, maybe its the fault of fast food chains and supermarkets pedalling their unhealthy, processed wares . . .

You know what, I think that in part we are probably all to blame.  Regardless, we must all be part of the solution.  We need to take responsibility for what our children are eating.  We need to take responsibility for not just encouraging them to take more exercise, but for ensuring that they do.

We are very lucky that we have a park less than 5 minutes walk from our house which has a bowling green, tennis courts, two large grassed areas and an enclosed play area full of playground equipment for children up to the age of 12.  From the traditional swings and slide to a huge sandpit and some enormous wooden poles (which I've never quite understood the reason for) there is plenty for kids to do to keep them active.

This summer we will be spending as much time as possible outside - walking the dog, riding bikes and scooters or just making the most of having some lovely parks nearby.  Come September, we'll be walking to school every day (sometimes three times a day for me and Amy), Ben will go back to dance class and everyone will carry on with their swimming lessons.  I have no concerns about my children's weight or activity levels right now and I'd like to keep it that way! 

*Collaborative post*

Tried & Tested Tuesday (Week #30 - 2016)

We're now into the second week of our school holidays having had a lovely sunny break in Scarborough last week - obviously I'll be writing about this soon!  What have you got planned for the summer?

Welcome to another week of #TriedTested! Of course we wouldn’t be able to say that without you lovely lot returning each and every week to link up your favourite reviews and taking time to read and comment on others.  We have always been really proud of the fact that the bloggers joining in with #TriedTested are keen commenters; let’s face it there’s no point in linking up if you’re not going to get lots of lovely people reading your post is there – so gold stars all round.  You’re ace, keep it up!
Please have a quick read through the points below to make sure you know how things are working:

* Tried & Tested is open on Tuesday – from 8am to midnight on the same day

*  We’d love to share your post on Twitter – please tweet us your link (@Lollinski & @FamilyFever) along with the #TriedTested hashtag and we’ll retweet that for you

* If you’d like Colette to tweet you a reminder each week when the linky is open then please drop her a tweet (@Lollinski) and she’ll add you to the list (Reminders have been temporarily suspended but will be back soon!)

* Each week we feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and we have a super special “featured blogger” badge! If you are this week’s featured blogger we will send you over the code which we would love you to add to you blog post or sidebar!

So if this is your first time here then welcome along, where have you been? You can find out more about #TriedTested and how to join in here.  If you’re a regular then welcome to you too, it’s lovely to have you back! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – let’s face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

This week we have loved:
#TriedTested featured blogger

The BFG film premiere review from Emmy's Mummy. It's a film that is definitely on our summer holiday bucket list!
#TriedTested featured blogger

Top 5 postpartum essentials from Amy and Tots. We found ourselves nodding along to this post, especially when it came to the massive knickers!
We don’t have lots of rules for #TriedTested however the ones we do have are really important:
* Please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment on the posts we have each linked up
* Try to comment on a couple of other posts as well if you can – we know that people really appreciate the feedback!
* We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional or irrelevant posts will be deleted out of fairness.)
* Please don’t link up a linky or comment on other people’s posts asking them to join your linky too as it’s really not good etiquette!

We do our best to visit each post to leave a comment but we can’t promise to get round everyone every week - especially over the summer holidays!!  We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too so other people know where to find the linky.
We're going on an adventure

Monday, 25 July 2016

A whole year of swimming with Puddle Ducks

This morning Amy had her last Puddle Ducks swimming lesson of the academic year.  I can't quite get my head around where the time has gone!  From her very first lesson as a "Kicker" back in September where she clung to me and cried - through to today, the end of her first term as a "Little Dipper" where she smiled and laughed her way through her lesson - she has come so far!  

I've written before about why I prefer Amy's Puddle Ducks lessons to Ben and Chloe's local council run lessons and I think anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media will know how much Amy and I love our Puddle Ducks lessons but I thought I'd share with you some of the reasons why: 

1. It's our special time together
First and foremost, our Monday morning swimming lesson is about me and Bo.  There's nobody else taking our attention, no jobs to do, no emails to answer or social media to check.  Once we've dropped the big two off at school, it's "Mummy & Amy time" - we swim together, we cuddle, we laugh (and we often eat nice big chocolate ice creams after our lessons!) 

2. It's never too late to start! 
I always thought that with private swimming lessons like Puddle Ducks, you had to start when you were a baby - and whilst that's obviously preferable, there's nothing stopping you from starting a little older.  Amy was 22 months old when she started swimming with Puddle Ducks.  Your Puddle Ducks teacher will differentiate the lessons all the time to make sure that each activity is modified to suit the level of your child, whether they have been swimming for three years or three weeks. 

3. The staff
Over the last year we've met lots of people who work for Puddle Ducks Greater Manchester - and without fail, every single one of them has been really lovely and friendly and they are all clearly very passionate about their jobs.  Of course we must make special mention of Amy's first teachers Sarah & Jenna who got her started back in September and her current teacher Claire who never fails to make Amy giggle with her antics in the pool.  Claire has a great way of using humour to convince Amy into trying new things, she knows exactly what Amy is capable of and never pushes her too far.

4. Daddy can go too! 
Just because it's me that takes Amy to her lessons most of the time, doesn't mean Daddy can't take her for an occasional swim too!  (In fact Amy almost had a swimming lesson with Granny a few weeks ago but the logistics didn't work in the end!)  I think it's great that Dave occasionally gets chance to spend time with Amy in the pool - as much for him to learn about the different signals etc that we use as anything else. 

5. It's fun! 
Amy might well be learning life saving swimming skills but she doesn't know it - she's singing songs, playing with toys and having a splash about with her friends!  Puddle Ducks lessons never feel like hard work, each lesson is designed to develop specific swimming skills (and our teacher makes it clear exactly what the point of the activity is) but all the kids know is that they're having fun in the pool which is exactly how it should be! 

Thanks for a super year Puddle Ducks! 
(You can read all our other Puddle Ducks posts here

*Amy swims with Puddle Ducks free of charge for the purposes of review.  All thoughts and opinions remain our own*

A life without white goods?

So this might seem a bit of an odd question - but if you were asked which was your favourite white goods appliance, what would you say?  What can't you live without?!  Recently Beko ran a poll on Twitter asking what appliance you can't live without with the clear winner being a fridge-freezer
I'm not sure I can actually choose . . .

I remember when we first moved into our house eight years ago, we had a manky old fridge and separate freezer which Dave had brought with him from his house in Preston.  I gave it such a good bleaching but it was still minging!  Because we'd only really lived in furnished properties before buying our own home, we didn't have a washing machine, dishwasher or tumble drier and lived on microwave meals for weeks and weeks!  (In particular some sort of microwavable Mr Ben's risotto I seem to remember - I was SO sick of it by the time we finally got a new cooker sorted!) 

I guess over time we just had to prioritise our purchases - I think the washing machine came first as I wasn't a fan of sitting in the launderette around the corner, feeding the machines with coins while time just drained away!  We picked up our dishwasher second hand thanks to my Dad and bought a tumble drier when Ben was born.  (We actually don't use the tumble all that often - point proven by the fact it has been in storage at my friends' house for the last two years whilst our extension was built!)  Since then we had our kitchen rebuilt and refitted and bought a new fridge-freezer and fitted a new hob and oven.  I must admit I still hanker after one of those fancy plumbed in fridges that give out ice and chilled water!

Clearly, when the need has arisen, I've managed to survive without almost all of my white goods for a limited period of time but if you told me know that you were taken away my washing machine or fridge freezer indefinitely, you'd have a fight on your hands! 

At the end of the day each one adds a certain level of convenience to our lives - from the washing machine meaning we can (just about) keep on top of the washing for a family of five from the comfort of our own home, to the fridge-freezer meaning we don't need to make daily (expensive) trips to the supermarket or even the dishwasher saving us from standing at the kitchen sink for hours on end scrubbing dishes.  If I had to live without them I suppose I would just manage, I would find ways around it.  Do I want to live without them?  Not on your nelly! 

*Collaborative post*  

Washing Machine photo credit: illicre via Compfight cc

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Seven Weeks of Summer - Week 1

Wow what a busy week it has been!  I had all these great plans to schedule in a few posts for you while we were away and it just didn't happen, time ran away with me! 

This year we have seven glorious weeks of summer off school - and of course being a supply teacher means I get the same time off too  (from teaching at least, the "work at home" element of my job - blogging - never stops!)  Ben and I decided it would be a great idea to Vlog our summer holidays this year and create a weekly "Seven Weeks of Summer" video to upload each Sunday night.  (You can subscribe to our channel here to make sure you don't miss anything!) I've also been using #sevenweeksofsummer over on instagram so you can see what we've been up to during the week!  (Of course you can't make a hashtag entirely your own so you might well find images belonging to other people too!) 

So without further ado - here's our first #SevenWeeksofSummer vlog: 

I thought it would make sense to write about what we've been up to as well as obviously a six minute video can only really give a taster!  To make the videos easier to edit and uploaded on time I'm making our week's run from Saturday to Friday . . . 

What a flipping gloriously sunny day, perfect for fruit picking at The Balloon Tree in York - this was something I've been wanting to do for a couple of years but always seemed to be a bit late and miss the strawberry season! I have such lovely memories of going fruit picking with my grandparents and was keen to take the kids.  As it turned out they absolutely loved it and we spent a whopping £26 on freshly picked strawberries and raspberries!  (Not to mention the further £20 or so my Mum spent!)  I think we got a bit carried away! 

Aunty Nic appeared bright and early with a brand new paddling pool and two enormous "water fights" as Amy christened them.  The day passed by in a blur of splashing, shrieks of laughter and BBQ based goodness.  My parents' garden is enormous and perfect for water fights -  I'm quite sure that as the kids grow up they will have lots of happy memories of chasing around and soaking each other over the years! 

We set off to our holiday cottage in Scarborough mid afternoon (I will be writing about this in more detail later in the week) and arrived just after 4pm.  Although we hadn't told the kids we were going on holiday with The Butlers they didn't seem particularly surprised to see them waiting there for us - I think they've just got used to finding Finley & Erin wherever we go!!  Once we'd got sorted in the cottage we took ourselves off down to Scarborough seafront for a chippy tea and an ice cream.  We hadn't really intended to go on the beach but in the end the temptation was just too great for the kids!  Cue lots of sand everywhere. 

The hottest day of the year and we find ourselves on holiday in Scarborough - what could be better!  We were on the beach by 10am and you'd think we were in Greece, it was just glorious.  In fact it was so warm that I actually stripped down to my swimming costume - I think being in my cossie on the beach in Scarborough is probably a once in a life time experience!!  After 5 hours on the beach we made our way back up to the cottage to get cleaned up and have dinner at a pub we'd spotted just down the road. 

The forecast for Wednesday hadn't been so great with showers expected for much of the afternoon.  We decided to have a relaxed morning at the cottage before taking the kids to the arcades in the afternoon - what's a seaside trip without 2p machines right?  As it turned out we struck lucky and there was nothing more than a couple of spots of rain all day.  We enjoyed some enormous ice cream sundaes at The Harbour Bar before popping into the pub again for tea on the way home.  

Again we didn't expect the weather to be amazing - sunny spells and reasonable temperatures but not exactly lounging around on the beach weather!  We decided to explore Peasholme Park - which is an absolute beauty of a park with a lake in the middle.  Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have a play area which the kids were royally disappointed by but we made up for it with a stint on the pedalos (you can watch our facebook live).  Because Dave had to work on Friday, he left us mid afternoon to head home.  Thursday tea time should probably warrant a blog post all of it's own but it can be summed up by seagull attacks, lost dinners and wet clothes! 

Time to head home!  We had a great holiday but I think we were all ready to get the kids back into their own beds and sleep routines! 

I will be writing about our stay in Scarborough in more detail - mainly because I've got so many gorgeous photos I want to share with you!  In the meantime I hope enjoyed our first #SevenWeeksofSummer vlog! 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Join the Go Jetters Twitter Party!

Fans of CBeebies will most likely know exactly who the Go Jetters are!  For those of you who aren't sure, they're a team of four adventure-seeking superheroes exploring planet Earth and my three love them!  They're often talking about places the Go Jetters have visited - Stonehenge, The Eifel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa!  (I think they're Geography will be better than mine soon!) 

This coming Thursday between 2pm and 4pm, I will be cohosting a Go Jetters Twitter Party and would love you to come and join us using the hashtag #GoJettersGo - there will be lots of fun and games 
and even the odd spot prize!

We will be watching the Go Jetters DVD as well as testing out and sharing our thoughts on some of the new Fisher-Price Go Jetters toy range which I know 
my little team are going to be super excited about. 

Make sure you're following @Lollinski and @ukmumstv on Thursday and use the hashtag #GoJettersGo to take part!