I feel like I am becoming a Slimming World friendly meal planning ninja to be honest. Not to blow my own trumpet (parp) but I haven’t ordered a takeaway in a good few weeks nor do I miss it. Meal planning is becoming something I actually enjoy and even look forward to!

That said, this week I have eaten my own weight in leftover easter eggs. Can’t win em all!

The week ahead should be a pretty good one. We have no big events planned so it should be fairly easy to stick to the Slimming World plan and stick to budgeting too.

This week in food

Friday: Pasta Bolognese and green salad

Saturday: Lamb curry with broccoli and rice.

Sunday: Ham and vegetable gratin with new potatoes and veg

Monday: Simple pea pesto spaghetti with baby spinach salad and roasted red pepper

Tuesday: Chicken skewers with slimming world chips and salad and my vegan syn free coleslaw

Wednesday: Sausages and roasted veg for me. Side of mashed potato for everyone else. Lets face it, I will probably end up with mash too because it’s mash and who can resist it?

Thursday: Chicken Chilli and rice. Sounds a bit grim but the Stagg veg chilli is actually tasty and syn free on Slimming World. Great for a very quick meal.

Breakfast will be mainly oat pancakes or porridge. I love it at the moment and you can add loads of different things to it to change it up. I love frozen cherries and a little almond essence and teaspoon of raspberry jam so it tastes like cherry bakewell.

Lunches will be whatever we have. I am trying to save my pennies to shamelessly blow on the BlogOn raffle next week so I want to use what we have in the cupboards. Lunches could get ..weird.

 

Katykicker

Brio is a brand I grew up with. Some of the Brio in Moose’s toy box in fact IS the Brio I grew up with!

A few years ago my Dad decided to clear out his loft and gave me tubs of our old toys. One tub had Brio train track in it. Considering that I am <cough> nearly 40, it goes o show that this stuff seriously stands the test of time.

Recently we were sent the Brio Cargo Transport Helicopter. Moose hadn’t really played with his train track in a while and to be honest I had started to wonder whether it might be best to pack it away. Just a few days before the Helicopter arrived though he suddenly became interested again.

It’s quite nice now that he is a little bit older. It used to be that I would build the track and he would play with it but now, he really enjoys planning out where the track will go and putting it all together. He possibly enjoys that aspect more than running his trains along it even.

Inside the box

Included in the Brio Cargo Transport Helicopter are 8 pieces; 1x Cargo Helicopter, 1x Figure, 2x Wagons, 2x Wooden Loads, 2x Container

What did we think

The cockpit of the Helicopter opens to fit the figure inside which Moose loved and the figure itself is nicely detailed down to a little headset.

With a moving rotor (is it a rotor? propellor? turny bit?) on top, Moose had great fun loading up the helicopter and ‘flying’ around the room.

The back of the helicopter opens up easily for little fingers so that the cargo can be put inside. The cargo so far has consisted of the actual Brio cargo and also mini figures and even some chocolate eggs from Easter.

All Brio is made from FSC Certified wood. The Brio Cargo Transport Helicopter feels nice and sturdy. The trains, wagons, carriages, and road vehicles all feature the classic BRIO magnetic couplings allowing for easy connection to each other. Although, the helicopter itself will not fit onto the track due to having a trio of wheelbases.

I know that this will be a toy that Moose will get loads of play out of. Who knows, maybe his children will too someday! The Brio Cargo Transport Helicopter is available from the Brio website and is priced at around £34.99

This product was sent to us in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain our own.

 

When Bess was very young it became pretty obvious that she had inherited my love of books. She devoured everything from books meant for children to literally anything. Road signs to recipes, she would proudly read them aloud.

Something I did a bit by accident was to get her interested in Shakespeare quite early on. We all know that teenagers will at some point study a play written by Shakespeare in secondary school but by Christ, aren’t they dull at the time? I genuinely don’t know how my English teacher managed to suck all of the passion out of Romeo and Juliet, but manage it he did!

I came across a set of books. Bess was about 7 I suppose. It was a selection of classics by Shakespeare but they were written in wording suitable for children – and adults who missed the point a bit of some of the works when she last read them <cough>

As today happens to be Shakespeare’s birthday I wanted to talk about ideas you could try to get your child interested in the bard. If you want to, I mean, you have a choice in this of course.

Talk about the words and phrases Shakespeare gave us.

shakespeare phrases and words

 

There are a lot. More importantly they will be phrases that your child has used or at least heard! You could even research from which works the phrases are taken.

 Watch Tv

Over the years there have been some really great adaptations of Shakespeare’s works made into Tv and Movies. Obviously you have to keep it age appropriate but even for younger children there are some great short animations on YouTube. I can’t vouch for them all but I have watched a couple and they were really engaging and totally age appropriate.

You could, of course, take your child to a 3 hour production at the theatre. If you think they could cope then great. Personally, I would rather wait for that until they have an interest already. It’s kinder to everyone involved I think.

Choose the right play for your child

Its not that there is a hard and fast order that I think you should use but depending on you child and their age you can pick and choose. It’s not like there is a shortage to choose from!

Personally, I chose to introduce these plays first

  • A Midsummer Nights Dream
  • Much ado about nothing
  • Twelfth Night

I was tempted to launch her straight into Macbeth but figured that my then 7 year old fairy obsessed daughter would be better suited to Titania et al. I don’t know your kid though, you do. Choose something which matches their interests and you will already have won half the battle.

If you have a much younger child you could introduce them to the characters (for example) from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and make up your own little stories for them.

Simplify the stories

My best friend in this endeavour was a set of books I came across online. They are called The Shakespeare Stories Collection by Andrew Matthews & Tony Ross and they are wonderful.

The premise of the collection is simple. Shakespeare’s works in language that children will not find so intimidating. That’s the biggest challenge I think. Teens are introduced to it all a bit too late. I wanted Bess to be able to approach the plays of Shakespeare with a basic understanding of the story. In the hope that it would give her confidence later, in class and encourage her and make her thirsty for more.

The stories that are included are;

  • Julius Caesar
  • King Lear
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Twelfth Night
  • As you Like it
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Tempest
  • Henry V
  • Macbeth
  • Othello
  • Richard III
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Hamlet

That’s a lot of knowledge for less than £10. I bought the set from The Book People and I loved it so much that I bought another set for my Nephew. Unlike Bess, he hasn’t really read them I don’t think. Perhaps he would be more suited to the Shakespeare comics that you can also buy online. I think Shakespeare would have approved of those too.

I really believe that anything that makes old stories accessible to children is worth exploring. Any reading is good reading.

Learn about Elizabethan England

Lastly, to understand an Elizabethan writer it makes sense to learn about Elizabethan England. You could use the internet to look at the foods they ate or perhaps make some paper dolls and paper clothes to dress them with. There are some great exhibits at lots of museums around the Uk with tons of Elizabethan artefacts to learn about.

There are even open air museums which allow you to step into history. We are planning a trip to the Weald and Downland museum in Sussex later this year. It looks fabulous!

There are loads of resources online for teaching children about Shakespeare too. You could watch the stories, you could reenact the plays together putting on voices for the different characters perhaps. You could create a family tree for the characters from a story or write out lines from plays and guess which one they belong to. BBC bitesize is great for older children too.

I truly believe that there is a play by Shakespeare to suit most (if not every) persons taste. It’s just a matter of how you approach it all. The key is to start with what your child will naturally be interested in and go from there. It’s supposed to be fun though!

What’s your favourite play by Shakespeare?

 

We received this toy in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own

There are some toys which I think of as an investment. These are the toys which, in some families, tend to be kept for the “next children” or even Grandchildren. Toys which don’t really ever go out of fashion and have a universal appeal. Playmobil is definitely one of those toys.

Playmobil and us

Upstairs, we have 2 other Playmobil sets. I bought a dinosaur adventure set, complete with fossils and a volcano, for Col, who is now 18. The other is a play park set with working swingset and seesaw among other things which was bought for Bess when she was, well, a lot littler than she is now! The intended recipients have played with the Playmobil sets and so have scored of nieces and nephews. They have held their own and now Moose loves to play with them too.

When we were offered the opportunity to play with a toy from the new Playmobil SPACE range, Moose could hardly contain his excitement!

The Playmobil Mars Space Station arrived and Moose couldn’t wait to play.

What’s in the box

The box contains a lot of pieces. If you are buying this set for a younger child, you might want to think about setting the fiddlier accessories to one side and giving them to the child when they are a little older. We have done this with Playmobil sets in the past and it works well – and means that you stand a chance of the tiny items not getting lost within a week of opening.

The Mars Space Station set includes two astronauts, one robot, space station, computer, tools, food supplies, space crystals, telescope, video recorder, and tons of other accessories.

There is some assembly required and you will need 2 x AAA batteries (not included in the set).

We love any playsets that encourage imaginative play. Playmobil is perfect for this. Creative kids can have a blast with the different features of the Space Station, including “cannons” (as Moose calls them). These are actually functional lasers, which are easy to shoot and reload quickly; they are also great fun.

Moose has a real thing for space just lately. He also loves Robots. When he found that this Playmobil set comes complete with a little robot he was very pleased!

 

After taking off the detachable roof, we were really impressed with the details and amount of objects which can be found inside. As much as the detail is there, it’s not overly fussy or complicated. Little touches such as the laptop had Moose really excited to play.

Attention to detail

The station also has a range of different areas, like the botany section and the sleeping quarters. These are intricately detailed, like the rest of the Space Station, and even have specific compartments and slots for the smaller pieces to go in.

In a playset like this it’s really handy to have the little bits packed away. It gives the child (or enthusiastic parent – no judgement) plenty of space to play.

Moose loved playing with the Playmobil Mars Space Station.

The light up sections and noisy buttons have kept him interested in playing for ages. Thankfully they aren’t too loud or tinny. The best part for me is that I can be confident that this playset will stand up to a 4 year old manhandling it. Playmobil is a brand that doesn’t disappoint.

The Playmobil Mars Space Station retails at around £60 . It may not be cheap but it is great value and a good investment. Especially if you have more than one child running around.

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

This week has been pretty much perfect. A bold statement, I know, but stick with me.

The Easter break from school seems to have suited us all really well. 2 weeks of having the children at home and being self employed can be seriously challenging but this time around they have been great. No shouts of “I’m bored” or any squabbling really.

We paid a visit to a local zoo which has a fantastic outdoor playground. We took cousin Milly along with us. You may think that voluntarily taking an extra child would equal extra work but that’s not the case at all. Milly is the same age as Moose and I love it when they get the chance to spend time together because she really encourages him to put himself ‘out there’ a bit more than he usually would. They adore each other and have been the best of friends forever.

Later in the week we were invited along by my sister to try out a new wall climbing place fairly close to where we live. One of the unfortunate things I have found with my illness is that I can no longer drive as far as I would have previously done. Luckily my brother and sister have been great about being my driver on occasion or inviting us to places.

I genuinely didn’t think that either Moose nor Bess would be interested in this though. We are not a family known for its love of active activities after all.

I was right about Moose, he wasn’t a fan of climbing at all. He did try but found it a bit scary. Bess, however, proved me wrong completely and took to it really well! She tried out loads of the different walls. I was really proud of her for getting stuck in!

The main attraction of this week was of course, Easter! Bess insisted on organising an egg hunt for Moose complete with clues for him to solve. She wrote him 10 clues and it was really sweet watching him solve them and find his eggs. I snapped this pic and the way he is looking at her makes my heart melt. He loves his big sister so much. There are 9 years between them. it feels sometimes like they have nothing at all in common but I don’t worry about the age gap too much. After all, there is the same gap between my sister and I and we are really close!

 

 

Living Arrows