Duck World

For his fifth birthday, back in February, Daniel asked if we could go to Duck World to feed the ducks.  Well I checked and could find no place called Duck World, at least not in the UK.  In Daniel’s young mind, however, there should be such a place as Duck World (and I’m inclined to agree!) and so I set about finding a suitable location that would live up to his expectations.  We settled on Arundel Wetland Centre and booked to go with the wider family in February half term.  Unfortunately, chicken pox struck and the birthday outing had to be postponed.  On Monday, however, we finally made it to Duck World!

Arundel Wetland Centre certainly lived up to Daniel’s high expectations and he announced to us that it was his best birthday ever.  The Wetland Centre is home to a vast array of ducks and other waterfowl.  We were spoilt with many sightings of goslings and ducklings including some really tiny baby moorhens.  As we arrived we purchased three scoops of food for the ducks but to be honest we could have made do with much less than that.  Many of the ducks did not seem overly hungry.  Despite this, we did find a few who were interested, some even keen enough to eat out of Daniel’s hand.

One of the highlights of the day was our trip on the boat safari.  The guide who took us on our boat safari was fantastic with the boys and pointed out things that would be of interest to them as well as the adults on the boat.  The boys also enjoyed visiting various hides around the site and seeing what they could spot through the binoculars that Gramp had lent them.

We spent the whole day at Arundel Wetland Centre and there was still more that we could have done e.g. pond dipping.  It was a fantastic day out and one that really catered for a wide spread of ages.  The paths around the site were good and it would easily be manageable with a pushchair or a wheelchair.  It’s not the cheapest day out but I would say that it represents good value for money (particularly if you take advantage of the 10% discount when buying your tickets online in advance).  Given that it is not too far away from family in Chichester, I can certainly see us visiting again in the future.

Our Lent Prayer Adventure

You may recall that I posted a few weeks ago about how we were planning to use the GodVenture prayer cards throughout Lent.  We have really enjoyed getting creative with our prayers over the last few weeks and it has been a really great experience.  Throughout Lent we have used sweets, play doh, dried pasta, fridge magnets and candles as part of our prayers – the list could go on and on!  Another favourite that has been repeated numerous times is coming up with our own verses for the song ‘Thank you, Lord, for this fine day.’  One of the things I really like about the GodVenture prayer cards is that they include prayer ideas for saying thank you, sorry and please as well as just general chatting with God.  I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who wants to think of new and creative ways of praying with their children.  I have also used the GodVenture ideas with my 5-8 year old’s Sunday school group and they went down really well with them as well.

Alongside the GodVenture prayer cards, our March edition of the Treasure Box People’s resource was linked to the Lord’s prayer.  This included a prayer dice which the boys have really enjoyed using, as well as a balloon with the Earth painted on which we have been able to use to support our praying for people we know in other parts of the world.  It’s been great to have this to reinforce some of what we were doing through the GodVenture cards.

I am very conscious that the prayers our children hear us praying for them can have a profound effect.  One of the things that struck me when I read Praying Circles Around Your Children earlier this year was that my children don’t often hear me praying Bible verses over them.  I therefore loved the Everyday Prayers posters that CPO sell.  I saw these at the Children’s and Family Ministry Conference and bought one which I have put up in the boys’ room.  It lists a different Bible verse for each day of the month and each night I pray the Bible verse for that day over the boys.  This has led to some great discussion about some of the verses and what they mean.

The last few weeks have been great as the boys and I have tried to immerse ourselves more in prayer together.  We will definitely be continuing to use the ideas in the coming weeks and months.

Holy Week Boxes

Recently I read about Linda LeBron’s fabulous idea of Holy Week boxes.  These simple boxes contain a few simple items that can help you share the Easter story with your children.

I was a bit late putting together my own Holy Week box but managed to find all of the items I needed from around the house.  The box itself is an old jewellery box and I have used a board game figure to represent Jesus.  All you need beyond that is a small piece of white fabric and some green paper.  However, a number of people have developed the original idea further and so you may choose to add some pipe cleaners or twist ties and three chocolate coins as I have done.

Victoria Beech has produced a set of instructions to go with the Holy Week boxes and you can find these on the GodVenture website.  She includes suggestions for developing the story further each day during Holy Week including Bible references and a discussion question.

The boys and I started looking at the first few events from Holy Week today using the box as a prop to help us.  It is really good to have an engaging way of sharing the Easter story with young children and I am looking forward to continuing to explore the story with them as the week goes on.

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Bournemouth Oceanarium

Yesterday the four of us had a great day at the Oceanarium in Bournemouth.  Throughout March they have been doing a fantastic half price offer for people with a local postcode.  This means that even adult tickets have been under £5, representing excellent value for money for people who can prove that they live locally.

The March offer combined with the rather dull weather yesterday meant that the Oceanarium was rather busy.  However, this did not detract from our experience and I don’t think the boys noticed at all.  They loved seeing the clownfish and referred to them all as Nemo despite not having seen the film.  They also loved watching the otters playing.  However, the definite highlight was the Great Barrier Reef display which houses several species of shark and a pair of magnificent green sea turtles.  These were undoubtedly Josh’s favourite creatures and he could have watched them all day.  Even I was amazed by how big they were.

Having walked around the Oceanarium once, we then left to go and have some lunch at the nearby Harry Ramsden’s.  Unfortunately the weather meant that the views out to sea were not as enticing as they could be but there were a handful of hardy bodyboarders that Daniel enjoyed watching while he ate his lunch.

After we had eaten, we returned to the Oceanarium in time for the shark feeding.  This was fantastic to watch and the keeper demonstrated the vast speeds of up to 40mph that the sharks can travel at.  As well as feeding the sharks and giving us some information about them, she also talked about the green sea turtles and the boys loved watching them swim about to eat some cabbage.

Despite having already gone around the Oceanarium once, the boys were keen to see everything again the second time round.  They were truly captivated and it was a lovely day out for all of us.  If you’re ever in the Bournemouth area, it is well worth a visit.

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Build-A-Bear

Last weekend the boys and I had our first trip to Build-A-Bear. Joshua, in particular, is really into cuddly toys and so I was really looking forward to taking them to make their own.

Having heard that a shopping trip to Build-A-Bear can easily get expensive, before we went I explained to the boys what their budget was. My parents offered to pay for the boys’ bears and I let the boys have £10 of their Christmas/birthday money to choose an outfit for them.

I had high expectations of the whole Build-A-Bear experience and I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. All of the staff were really lovely and engaged well with the boys. Daniel and Josh loved picking which ‘bear’ they wanted to make, selecting their outfits and choosing a name for them.

Joshua chose to make a dog and he decided to call him Stan (the same name as our friends’ new puppy). Daniel chose a teddy bear who he called Mr Great. Later in the day Daniel told me that he had chosen the name Mr Great because he wanted to name the bear after Great Grandad who died a few weeks ago. I was really touched when he asked if we could let Great Nanna know as he hoped that this would make her feel less sad.

As expected, they wanted to buy lots of outfits for their teddies but understood their £10 budget limit and in the end both selected football kits for their bears. They would love to buy football boots for their teddies, as well as a fireman costume, and so I am sure some Build-A-Bear items will be appearing on future Christmas/birthday lists.

Since the weekend the new teddies have gone almost everywhere with them. Every evening Daniel religiously takes off their clothes and every morning he gets them dressed again. Daniel is allowed to take an object into school to show on a Thursday and it was no surprise to me that he chose to take in Mr Great this week. They really are two very loved little teddies.

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Chicken Pox Round 2

Well Chicken Pox did strike again, as expected, and I am pleased to say that we have now put this illness behind us.  Joshua was much more unwell with it than Daniel was but his spots seemed to progress through the various stages and clear up much quicker.  As I’m sure many parents do, I trawled the internet for various medicines and other remedies that could help.  These were the things that I found useful:

– Keeping fingernails short.  Daniel didn’t seem to find his spots too itchy but Joshua did and didn’t think much of me telling him not to scratch.  Keeping his fingernails short has hopefully helped to prevent too much scarring.

– Loose fitting clothes.  In particular, I kept Josh in thin cotton babygros most of the time as he had a lot of spots around his middle and I wanted to avoid waistbands to try and help limit any irritation.

– Paracetamol suspension.  Both the boys were dosed up fairly regularly with paracetamol at the start.  Joshua also had a very high fever on his second day of the spots so this was extremely useful in bringing down his temperature.  I had read that Ibuprofen can cause an adverse reaction in chicken pox and so we avoided using this except on one occasion when Joshua was really struggling and begging for more medicine.

– Piriton Syrup.  Although Joshua didn’t like the taste of the Piriton, we used it with both of them, particularly at night, to help soothe the itching.  Piriton can have a mild sedative effect and so I tried to avoid using it too much during the day unless their itching was particularly bad.

– Virasoothe gel.  Although calamine lotion has been the traditional choice for applying to chicken pox spots, there is now some thought that it might not be the most effective form of relief in the long run as it can be too drying.  Aqueous calamine cream certainly seems to be more recommended.  However, we decided to spend a little bit more and buy Virasoothe gel which did seem to be effective.  Unfortunately I have been left with awful scars from my bout of chicken pox as a baby and I didn’t think the cost of a tube of Virasoothe was too much to pay if it could help limit the risk of this kind of scarring.  I have also heard good things about PoxClin mousse  although this wasn’t something we ourselves used.

– Oatmeal baths/bicarbonate of soda baths.  Whilst the boys had chicken pox, I tended to bath them twice a day as a bath is the most effective way to relieve itching.  Most of the time I put a few spoonfuls of porridge oats tied in the foot of a pair of tights into the water and also used this to sponge down their spots.  Daniel found this really helpful although Joshua was a bit more freaked out by it and has probably been put off porridge for life!  Tights were the only thing I ran out of having made sure I’d stocked up enough on all the various remedies, tights were the only thing I had to go out and buy more of.  Towards the end, I used bicarbonate of soda in the bath instead of oats to help dry out the spots.

I am glad that we can now put chicken pox behind us and that both boys seem to be pretty much completely recovered with the spots gradually fading away.

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Mother’s Day Questions 2015

I was really excited about Mother’s Day this year as it meant I would get to ask the boys the annual Mother’s Day questions and find out what Josh’s answers would be in this, his first year of answering the questions.  Enjoy…

1. What makes Mummy happy?

D – Good behaviour

J – Playing with me and Daniel

2. How does Mummy make you laugh?

D – Tickling

J – Tickling me

3. What was Mummy like as a child?

D – Good

J – Married

4. How old is Mummy?

D – 31

J – 7

5. How tall is Mummy?

D – Really tall

J – Big

6. What is Mummy’s favourite thing to do?

D – Spend time with me and Josh and dad

J – Play games and puzzles with me

7. What does Mummy do when you’re not around?

D – Search for me

J – Play with Daniel

8. What is Mummy really good at?

D – Helping me on tricky bikes that haven’t got stabilisers

J – Cuddling me and Daniel

9. What is Mummy not very good at?

D – Climbing trees

J – Eating sweets

10. What is Mummy’s favourite food?

D – Wine

J – Mashed potato

11. What do you and Mummy do together?

D – Playing

J – Do puzzles and play games

12. Where is Mummy’s favourite place to go?

D – Strictly Come Dancing

J – Peppa Pig World

13. What makes Mummy sad?

D – Me biting Josh

J – Not having kisses

14. What does Mummy like most about Daddy?

D – He takes her out somewhere

J – Because she loves him

15. How do you know Mummy loves you?

D – Because she says it

J – Because she loves me very much

16. What is Mummy’s job?

D – Being a teacher at school

J – Work

17. What makes you proud of Mummy?

D – Not being cross

J – Kisses

18. How are you and Mummy the same?

D – We’ve got the same hair

J – We’re the youngest

19. How are you and Mummy different?

D – Because we’re a girl and a boy

J – I am smaller

I love listening to their answers and thinking about the way they perceive me.  I’m very conscious that Daniel has thought a lot about my reactions to behaviour this year – saying I’m happy when he’s good and I’m sad when he bites Josh.  He’s also proud of me when I’m not being cross.  I hope he knows that I love and accept him even when he is naughty.  Something for me to think about…

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