Wednesday, 16 April 2014

An update

Apologies for the recent lack of content. Between dropped nap-times, a house move and many other things in the pipeline, this blog has been dreadfully neglected.

As of March, we are no longer residents of Suffolk. In fact, we're no longer residents of England entirely. I finally made good on my promise to 'go home' and as a result, we're currently living in the north-east of Scotland.

This is where I grew up. The hills, the forests and the standing stones are all the same, but so much else has changed. In the ten years since I last stepped foot in Aberdeen city centre, the town has grown to something unrecognisable - something cosmopolitan, new and... dare I say it? Cool?

But what does all of this mean in real terms? Well... it means that until the purchase of our new house goes through, we are living with my parents. I'm hoping that this means more chances to post as my Mum can watch Daughter while I do so (Hi, Mum, if you're reading). The move also means that there is a whole new library district at our fingertips. And though I can't shower anything but praise upon the Bury St Edmunds children's library, new is always fun... if only for a little while.

And speaking of fun, and books, we've found a brilliant one to share.

There are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz is absolutely fantastic. The narration of the book is essentially three cats, talking to the child. Daughter turned the pages according to the cats' instructions - forwards, back, blowing on the cats to dry them out after a swim and tucking them in with a flap disguised as a blanket. It reminded me a lot of the books by Herve Tullet - specifically Press Here. This is another book in which the child is asked to perform certain tasks which have an impact on the next page. I love how interactive they are without being noisy (battery powered books are a pet hate of mine - you can seldom replace the batteries and so they end up on landfill because the story rarely works without the noises).And Daughter loves them, which I suppose is the main thing. There are Cats in this Book is one of the few that we've borrowed in recent months which I plan on buying a copy of.

Aaah.... it's good to be back.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Craft #1 - Felt shapes

This is possibly the easiest thing I have ever made. The idea came from a lady in one of the groups I frequent on Facebook - Guiltfreemum, with a great blog, full of ideas - and involves nothing more than a bit of felt and some scissors. The original was a toddler-height wall hanging, but since the felt I had in my craft box was A4 size, that's the size we've made.

All you need to do is cut out a Christmas tree shape in your green, add a pot shape in brown, and cut some shapes from a third colour. I did; square, triangle, circle, rectangle, (a very squiffy-looking) heart, star and flower. These can be used as the baubles. To begin with, I stacked them all up at the side and asked Daughter to pick them out one by one, but that soon dissolved into her just decorating the tree, which is much more fun :) Hopefully, this'll help distract from the real thing when it arrives, though judging from the girl's reaction to those in the Supermarkets, I sincerely doubt that!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Aaaaaand the winner is....

.... number 2! Helen Souter. Well done! If you could please email me your address at frankiesoup(a) then I can sort out your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered. This was my first proper giveaway and I've learned a lot from  the process - namely to make sure the comment settings are correct, and that sometimes, my instructions aren't as  clear as I think they are!

Another massive 'thank you' to Barefoot Books for letting me organise this. It's been a real honour.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Ghostly Hours by Hape Toys

What an amazing game. Made from bamboo - sustainable - and packaged in recycled cardboard, this game has decent eco-credentials, as well as being massively educational.

The aim of the game is to get your ghost around the board before the graveyard closes at 6am. Players throw a pictorial die to decide whether they catapult a bat, a mouse or a spider at coloured rings. The colour of ring your animal lands in determines how many spaces your ghost  can move at a time.

This is brilliant for children learning colours, as well as turn taking, and you can even add in some number work as well - counting how many spaces each colour will give you and asking your child which colour they should aim for to move the furthest. It also helps hone motor skills and hand-eye coordination. What's not to love?

The build quality is excellent and though it states 3+ on the box, my little girl is two and a half and has thoroughly enjoyed playing with this. As in, that's all I've done today. I am so glad that I didn't wait until Christmas to hand this over. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

25% off at Barefoot Books and the chance to win a title of your choice.

As those of you who've been with me for a while might remember, I've been more than a bit in love with Barefoot Books for some time now. Having read My Granny Went to Market and Star Seeker, I wrote to the company and asked if they had any other titles they might recommend. True to form, we were sent three books - all of which have become fast favourites. In fact, the only reason I have time to sit and write this is because Daughter is currently occupied by the story CD which came with The Little Red Hen.

Out of the three, this is probably my favourite, simply because it goes beyond the story. There's a bread recipe at the back (which Daddy tried making with Daughter and which we'll be eating for lunch) and the CD means that if you're got the tech - unlike us, who are still using cassette! - then you can take the story with you on long drives.

When we'd finished making bread (I swear, the orange tiles were here when we moved in!), we sat down and had multiple read throughs of the other two books, Claire Beaton's Bedtime Rhymes and Cleo in the Snow. The first of these really appealled to me. Being a keen crafter, it was very inspiring to see what amazing pictures could be made with felt applique. It was also lovely to have a change of bedtime songs from our usual routine, as well as finally learn the words to Brahm's Lullabye (why did I never think to look that up before?)

Cleo in the Snow was definitely Daughter's favourite though - I mean, it's been a day and she can recite it by heart already... that should give you some indication as to it's appeal. I don't know whether it's the pictures, or that she thinks the child is her, or what it is, but since I never tire of seeing her enjoy a story, the fact she loves it is all that matters.

If you haven't already followed the links through to the homepage, have a nosey now - not only can you take advantage of the free activities and pod casts which are available, but if you pick out your favourite title and return to this post to comment, you could be in with a chance of winning your book.

If you're not lucky enough to win one of the books, why not treat your family with the 25% discount code 26th Nov. 2013, valid until 2nd Dec. 2013. Enter the code CRYMAMMA to receive your discount. If you don't have an account mentioned in the drop-down menu, choose 'Name/URL' or 'Anonymous' and leave your name in the comment itself.

*Winners will be chosen at random according to comment number and announced via the blog and the Cry Mamma facebook page at 8pm GMT on 3rd Dec 2013. Winners will be asked to contact me via email and will have 7 days in which to respond. If contact is not made within this time, a new winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Fun with shells

We're lucky enough to be staying at my Inlaws' summer house just now. Situated on the west coast of Denmark, we're in a wonderfully windswept and romantic spot - all sand dunes and wild weather.

Needless to say we've been making the most of our time here by heading down to the beach between bursts of horizontal rain. Sure, it's cold and wet, but sand in the summer time just doesn't do it for me. I much prefer seeing the ripples on the beach left by the wind, whilst the quiet of the sea out of season really speaks to the part of me that cried like a baby when Newsround ended my dreams of being a lighthouse keeper before they'd even really begun. Apparently, living on the edge of the world by yourself doesn't appeal to most people as a job and it was necessary to mechanise the whole thing. Boo.

Anyways, my crushed hopes aside, we found a lot of shells, and shells are apparently brilliant for entertaining small people. Daughter set herself up at the windowsill with a big pile of razor clams and conches, then set to examining her treasure in the light.

We were also lucky enough to be given a magnifying tub by family of ours in Germany - ideal for exploring the marks left by barnacles on shells.

But this is stage two of our operation - the really exciting bit for me was watching Daughter fill and empty the shells, using the puddles outside the house. She discovered - all by herself - which shells held the most liquid, that some were better at floating than others, that rocks sank quickly to the bottom, and that bigger rocks made bigger splashes. I mean, this is physics. This is proper physics, all just using puddles and things with found on the floor.

Naturtally, my terrible endurance meant that as soon as the wind and the rain started turning my ears to ice, we retreated indoors... I really wish I was capable of creating my own body heat...

But the fun continued inside. We dug out Daughter's old baby bath and tossed everything in it - conkers, rocks, shells... you name it. I brought her a spoon so she could measure how much water each shell held using a quantifiable amount. Before half an hour was up she able to tell me - without using direct comparisons - that shell A held less than shell C because shell C was smaller than shell B and shell B was smaller than shell A. Absolutely AMAZING. She could also tell me that the conker was light, so it would float, and the rock was heavy so it would sink. And best of all, it was free and initiated by Daugher. Science for the Win!