All posts by happyhandley

Following our interests, A visit to Sealife Weymouth

The way we home educate mostly involves us following the children’s interests. For E most of those interests revolve around fierce animals. Dinosaurs, Sharks, Monsters etc. We were given the opportunity to visit the Sealife Centre in Weymouth on Sunday. Sunday happened to coincide with the Ironman  competition, which did mean that Weymouth was very busy and the car park at the Sealife centre was closed. We were quite worried about how this would affect E, but he coped fantastically.

 

Hands on learning

On arrival we decided to have our picnic, E however, was so excited he didn’t want to eat. He rushed off to visit the seahorses, then the rock pool, then the seahorses, then the turtles! Are you beginning to see how our day went?! He must have visited every exhibit at least twice. Flitting between them, taking in all the sights, seeing all the different varieties of sea creature.

The girls enjoyed exploring and seeing everything, the also loved the play park with all it’s many twisty slides, and the splash area. Daddy and I had to take it in turns to follow E to his next target area. Occasionally we managed to visit an exhibit as a family, though we were rarely in one place for more than a couple of minutes. I liked that E had the space to roam and explore.

When we arrived at the ocean tunnel, E’s face was a picture. He soon spotted the sharks, his eyes lit up and he gasped with excitement. SHARKS! We spent a while there, watching them swim around. We even went back a bit later for another look.

 

At the end of the day we stopped off at The Royal Oak pub outside Blandford for dinner. The children were all in a great mood after a fun day although a bit tired. We enjoyed a really tasty meal and the pub was so child friendly with board games to keep the children entertained and a play area outside. It’s a day we shall look back with great memories.

Snazaroo Weekend Box – A Review

One things my kids have always loved is a good face painting session, whether at home or at fetes and parties. So when we were offered the chance to review a Snazaroo Weekend Box we were really excited.

The box arrived in the post addressed directly to the children, which is a lovely feature. I mean, what child doesn’t like receiving post? The box is fun, colourful and easy to open, great for little hands.

Inside the box were two little face painting kits. The first came with a little brush, sponge and 3 coloured face paints. There were also 3 very easy to follow instructions on how to paint your face.

The second little kit contained 3 stampers and 3 more coloured face paints. The stampers worked so much better than I anticipated. The girls loved playing with the stampers and printing on each others faces. The cupcake was a particular favourite.

The Snazaroo Weekend Box also has a certificate printed on the inside that the children can colour, complete and cut out. The little kits are the perfect size to take out and about, and share with friends too. My only qualm was that coverage on a full face was a little patchy. That may have been down to technique rather than the Snazaroo paints themselves though.

All in all the children gave the Snazaroo Weekend Box a massive two thumbs up.

 

 

**We were sent the Snazaroo Weekend Box Free for the purpose of review, all thoughts are our own.**

Medieval Jousting at Old Sarum

Yesterday we met up with some friends at Old Sarum in Salisbury for a medieval jousting event. Unlike most British bank holidays the weather was fantastic, gorgeous sunshine, warmth and blue skies. We arrived a little after midday and first visited the souvenir shop so the children could choose a weapon. E got a wooden sword, S chose a lance, the other 2 girls opted for squeezey balls instead of weapons.

We walked up to the castle remains for a play and explore. The children had battles, roamed about the castle and discussed history amongst themselves. Little S and R became knights, training with their noble steeds for a mighty jousting battle.

There was an “organised” war, the children were given foam swords, separated into teams and marched into battle. There were no winners, as at the end they were all instructed to do a big Shakespearean death!

There was a Jesters tent where the children could learn variuos circus skills such as juggling or walking on stilts. The stilts were much harder than they looked but great fun to try.

We loved looking around the castle and reading about the history of it, it’s a shame some of the plaques were quite old and difficult to read though. The views from the top were phenomenal. Over the course of the afternoon lots of small aircraft flew over with sky divers jumping out and floating over head.

After an ice cream to cool us down we wandered off to find the main attraction, the joust. Whilst we were waiting we somehow got enrolled into the fanfare for the joust. Little S, it seems, is very good at the trombone. Every time the knights and their horses entered the arena or scored a point in the joust we had to play our instruments.

We had a fantastic day and would definitely recommend it. I think Old Sarum is somewhere we shall visit again, maybe on a quieter day so we can explore all the bits we missed this time.

The best pet ever – a Zhu Zhu review

When my child is presented with a new battery operated toy, I tend to grumble inwardly. Eurgh, not more noisy, irritating toys that won’t turn off surely! So imagine my delight when not one but two cute, fluffy little Zhu Zhu’s arrived in the post for us to review.

To be honest receiving two was great as it meant less arguing about them, both of the little girls had one each. S chose Pipsqueek, a cute little yellow hamster, and the “unofficial leader of the Zhu Zhu’s”. Little S chose Chunk the blue Zhu Zhu, They were ecstatic, because as well as a new pet each they also got the Hamster Wheel and Tube rrp  £14.99 and the Adventure ball rrp £12.99 for their pets to play in. Both the ball and wheel were quite easy to put together and the girls could customise the wheel with the stickers that it came with. The ball does come apart quite easily though, so I have to pop it back together regularly.

These furry little toys have not left their sides since they got them. They’ve been to the park, Grandparents’ houses, and even to bed with them. The girls have loved making their Zhu Zhu’s dance, sing and run around. It’s been lovely hearing the girls squeal with laughter as they chase their little pets about.

They are without doubt the best pet, no mess to clear up, they don’t shed hair everywhere, and after 4 minutes of inactivity they turn themselves off! The only problem I have now is that they want to collect every pet and all the accessories too. I guess we’ll be off to Toy’R’Us soon, but at an rrp of £12.99 they’re quite reasonable.

 

 

**We received the Zhu Zhu’s and accessories free for the purpose of reviewing, all thoughts are our own. **

 

Camp Bestival and the good ol’ British summer!

This summer we were really fortunate to win tickets for the six of us to go to Camp Bestival for the whole weekend, thanks to New Young Mum blog. The children were all very excited, as was I. We spent ages preparing what to take with us, I’m sure the girls packed half their toy boxes!

As the weekend approached it was clear that the weather was not going to be on our side and we were likely to get very muddy. Throwing the wellies and waterproofs into the car, we set off hoping for the best. Daddy was working so would be joining us a little later, meaning that I had the job of setting up a 6 man tent on my own.

When we arrived the children were all very helpful, carrying their belongings to an empty space. I have never been more thankful for our wagon, it was a long walk. Unfortunately the heavens opened just as I was getting the tent out. Upon seeing me battle with wind, rain and canvas, a helpful passerby lent a hand putting up the tent. I never even got her name, but if you’re reading this, you saved me from an epic struggle and probably a few curse words!

Once the tent was up we made a final trip to the car for our remaining items, and set about making the tent cosy. After a cup of tea I felt ready to take the children exploring. We had a  good walk round the site, getting to know the layout and making a list of all we hoped to fit in. We had a go on the helter skelter, watched the insect circus perform  and took obligatory photos in front of the “I love Camp Bestival” sign.

After good look around our tummies were rumbling so we headed back to our tent for some food, and to wait for daddy to arrive. Once Daddy was there we were ready to party! We showed Daddy around and went to the main stage to see Mark Ronson. R absolutely loved it. He played all her favourite songs, she loved the atmosphere and dancing in the rain. It all proved a little much for E and Little S, so Daddy took them back to the tent to tuck them in for the night.

Gig Selfie!

In the morning we woke up stiff, cold and damp, clearly we were meant to be fair weather campers! Still, we tried to make the best of it and made straight for the worlds biggest bouncy castle. As E had an accessible camping pass we were able to join the short queue to go on first. Even then we queued for almost an hour waiting for the bouncy castle to be given the green light to open. Just as we about to go on, having paid our fares, the heavens opened again. The bouncy castle was deemed too slippery in the rain to be safe and we were all turned away. This lead to a major meltdown from E, who until then had been coping relatively well.  The simple change of plans, completely out of his control was too much for him. Eventually after about an hour (and an ice cream) there was a tentative peace.

Next up were Mr Maker and Mr Tumble on the Castle Stage. The little girls were really excited to see them. Daddy chose to stay with them, whilst I took the older two to the sports park. There E made friends with a boy playing boomerang skittles, and R decided to chill out on the hammocks. We played a game of bean bags toss and enjoyed some crazy golf. After Mr Tumble had finished the others came to meet us for a quick play before lunch.

We had burgers in rolls for lunch, which started off well. That is until the rain which had been gentle, became torrential. Soggy bread rolls are not fun! We were soaked, cold and getting grumpy. The tentative lull from meltdown was becoming more like a volcano waiting to erupt. We discussed holding out for the rest of the day to see Madness play, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The good ol’ British summer had got the best of us. We packed up and said goodbye to our brief time at Camp Bestival. It was time to go home and have a good hot bath and put on our jammies.

We ended up having to be pushed out of the mud in the car park, but not before someone had a cheeky barefoot dance in the mud! We are grateful to have experienced Camp Bestival but even more thankful to be home and dry.

 

Been very busy

Apologies for being a little quiet on here, we’ve been quite busy. Throughout June we partook in the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild. You may have been following us on instagram as we shared daily “wild” photos. We had great fun exploring the outdoors, catching moths and insects, foraging for elderflower to make cordial with friends and spending lots of time playing in the sunshine.

always climbing trees

R also had a great surprise in June. she was picked up from Granma and Granpa’s house and driven to the airport for a surprise visit to Spain. She spent a week with Great Granny, Granma and Granpa enjoying Spanish culture and weather. She spent a lot of her time there in the pool having a whale of a time! at the end of her week I went over to collect her and spend a couple of night there too.

looking very Spanish

We’ve been doing a fair bit of baking the past few days, with S and E both baking sponge cakes on their own. E also decided to make some lemonade one day which was very tasty.

E’s cake

We found a very cute toad in Nanny’s garden, everyone gave him a little cuddle.

Little S has been enjoying going to Forest School once a week. This week one of the leaders brought along some baby chicks.

Little S and Bob

We spent a day in Portsmouth catching up with some friends I’ve not seen in years. We had a pub lunch and got to see a tall ship too. 

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to be a bit more active on here again.

Do you imagine Autism?

My son is disabled. When you hear those words your mind automatically conjures up an image of what that disability might look like. You may imagine a child with cerebral palsy, or in a wheelchair or maybe with a severe mental disability. But do you ever imagine a child with Autism? A child that looks perfectly normal, one that can talk well?

My son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder with significant Pathological Demand Avoidance in January this year. At one time it was known as Atypical Autism. He has many of the common Autistic traits but he also has other traits not seen in typical Autism. It also means that, for him, the strategies commonly used for helping a person with Autism cope in everyday life, do not work for him.

He doesn’t cope with a rigid timetable, he needs life to be more flexible and he needs to feel that he is in control of that flexibility too. He needs to be able to choose, but too many different choices will overwhelm him causing him distress. If he feels pressured, or that a demand is being made it causes him to have an anxiety attack or a meltdown. These are often violent, aggressive and out of his control. When he is calm he knows hitting is a bad thing, but in that moment of anxiety, fight or flight takes over. When it is over he often feels guilt but struggles to express that, he finds it very difficult to apologise.

As I’ve learnt more about his condition and him, I’ve begun to understand him much better. He can be quite cruel with his words, like many people with Autism he has no filter. He will say what is on his mind. He doesn’t understand that what he says may hurt someone. For him pain is solely physical. If words have hurt him it’s because they were loud and hurt his ears, causing physical pain.

I once came home from a dog walk in tears, I had had an altercation with another dog walker that had upset me. My son asked if I was crying because the man had hit me. I explained that he had shouted at me and that I was upset. My son then asked me if it had hurt my ears, when I replied no it hadn’t he asked me “well, why are you crying then?”. It became clear he didn’t understand why I should be upset as I wasn’t in physical pain.

I am learning what makes him tick, how he thinks and feels. Knowing this helps me teach him how others think and feel. At times when he is calm I can have wonderful conversations with him. He is a very bright boy, and I’m sure that in time he will begin to understand that others think and feel differently from him. That the ways in which he interacts with others can cause them to think or feel differently to him. He will get there, but for now he needs extra help in understanding his peers and society. Be patient with him.

Pushing my comfort zone with Hotter

One thing I love to do is encourage my children to push themselves out of their comfort zones occasionally and try new and exciting things. Whether it be a new sport, group or just meeting new people. I also try to lead by example in all that I do and that means that I too have to step out of my comfort zone from time to time.

I was recently asked to try out the comfort of a new pair of Hotter shoes, whilst stepping out my comfort zone and off the top of a tower into thin air! Yes, I was asked to go on the Bournemouth Pier Zipline. In return though, I get a funky new pair of shoes. Sounds fair.

My gorgeous shoes

I chose the Shake shoes in cream floral. One thing I really love about Hotter shoes is their range of sizes. I’m a 6 and a half which can mean shoes often don’t fit well, but Hotter shoes do half sizes which is fab.

The tower

I was so nervous on the day of the Zip slide. I don’t mind heights too much but I don’t like jumping off them! We arrived and got all kitted out in harnesses and helmets, and headed up the big tower at the end of the pier.

All kitted out

The view from the top was amazing, the sun had come out and you could see right along the beach. For some reason I volunteered to go first. I was clipped onto the wire and the gate was opened. I lent back into for harness, took a deep breath and shuffled of the edge of the the tower. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life but I did it and after the first 2 seconds actually enjoyed it. I was not however, going to to go back for another try!

What a view

I had my harness removed and stood and watched all the others whizz by. Afterwards we did a quick interview on camera about our new fab Hotter Shoes, again not something I’m overly comfortable with. Once everyone had finished the lovely ladies at Hotter treated us to a meal in Aruba. We had fun chatting and eating together.

Weeeeee!!
Photo Credit Hotter Shoes

It was a wonderful evening and an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.

 

**I received a pair of Hotter Shoes for free in exchange for this review, all thoughts are my own **

 

A rare day of home educating at home!

It’s quite amusing that home education is so called as we are very rarely actually at home, and many others say the same. Monday we were at Moors Valley for a meet up, then went to Nanny’s house and R went swimming. Yesterday R was out for whole day at the Ancient Technology Centre with lots of home ed friends, whilst the rest of us went to our usual home ed group. So to have a whole day spent at home with no plans is quite novel.

The children were all awake between 7 and 8 and headed for their screen of choice to either play or watch something during breakfast. R spent the morning playing with online friends, listening to music and writing out song lyrics. The younger 3 played games and amused themselves which meant I was able to get on and do a bit of housework. The 2 littlest got out a maths set we were given yesterday and played with that for a while. At lunchtime a couple of my friends popped by for a cuppa and a chat.

After lunch we went to explore the field behind our house, the rape flowers are almost as tall as me. We took care to stay on the tractor tracks so as not to damage any plants, and a fab time. It was like a maze. The sun was shining and the children laughing.

After our walk we decided to do a little gardening, planting some foxgloves in the woodland and sowing some new seeds for the summer. The girls filled their own pots with compost and chose what seeds they wanted to sow from my seed box. By the time we had finished school had was over so the children wanted to play outside. We wandered up to the little park and played monsters/chase. S decided she wanted to do some more maths, and Little S helped me prepare dinner.

Once Daddy was home I went out for a nice quiet walk with Poppy and left the kiddies with him. Now it’s time for a cup of tea before crawling into bed. Tomorrow we are going Tomahawk throwing!

A family weekend in Cornwall

When you book a break in the UK you’re always taking a risk with the weather, thankfully we had amazing weather at our recent weekend on Cornwall. Every year we have a “family day”, getting together with my parents, brother, his wife and more recently his son too. This year we decided to do something a little different and spend a whole weekend together. We booked a lodge near Bodmin, Cornwall that was able to sleep all 11 of us.

Setting off at lunchtime on Friday after a full cooked breakfast we had 4 very excited little children. We stopped in Honiton for a drink and a cake, and to stretch our legs. The constant “are we there yet?” chides from the children kept going all through the afternoon. Eventually we arrived at Hengar Manor and found our lodge, number 14. The children raced in to explore and choose their beds. I put the kettle on for a much needed cuppa whilst we unpacked the bags.

Uncky C feeding the locals

We met the locals who were clearly fond of new visitors. Once settled we grabbed our cozzies and headed straight for the pool. E was happiest in the Jacuzzi, R was enjoying swimming the length of the pool and trying out the waterslide. The little two loved splashing in the water, alternating between the main pool and the baby pool. Our swim was unfortunately cut a little short when a little boy was sick in the Jacuzzi, and we were evacuated from the pool.

Back at the lodge we had dinner, played and fed the ducks. Granpa, Uncky C and Aunty A had to work so were to join us later. R took herself off to enjoy a relaxing bath in the big corner tub and I tucked the little ones into bed. E was clearly a little overwhelmed by the day and needed the weight of 3 duvets to help him drift of to sleep. I obviously need to invest in a weighted blanket for him. The others joined us late evening and we ate together, eventually headed for bed ourselves at around midnight.

Saturday morning started early with Aunty A coming down to get N some milk at half 5. S and Little S woke at about half 6 and charged upstairs to jump on Granpa! Once everyone was awake Granma realised that some vital components of our breakfast had been left behind in Dorset. So we sent Granpa and S off to the shops to get what we needed. After breakfast we went for a walk with Granpa and Granma whilst N went for his nap .

After popping to the tavern for a bite to eat in the afternoon we did our annual gift giving. The children were truly spoilt once again, receiving lots of new toys. We also enjoyed a party tea together and spent the afternoon playing. We took the children swimming again, this time taking Granpa, Aunty A, Uncky C and N along. Little S loved swimming with Granpa.

Sunday R cooked pancakes for breakfast for everyone, although needed help as the pan wasn’t non-stick. After breakfast Aunty A, Uncky C and N packed their bags and headed home. We went to the pool one last time, taking Granma and Granpa. R enjoyed showing off her impressive swimming skills to her grandparents. After swimming we had lunch and packed our bags up. We decided on a final stroll of the grounds, taking with us the rest of the bird food. We were able to hand feed the ducks which was quite tickly. We visited the park again and expelled some energy before the long drive home. After stopping for a cheeky McDonalds in Exeter, we arrived home just in time for bed.

Hand feeding the ducks

A very busy but fun filled weekend in Cornwall.

My Random Musings