Back to school – Living Arrows week 37 2020

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

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

Can you hear that? Yup, it is the sound of silence and it is bliss!

This weeks photos were both taken this morning (in a rush of course) just before both Bess and Moose left to go to their respective schools and approx 30 minutes after MrG left to go to the office. It has just been me and the dog for the whole day for the first time since April and honestly, I could get used to this!

It feels like we are waiting at the moment though. Not sure for what exactly but just waiting. For normality? For it all to kick off and close down again? I don’t know, just waiting. At least I get some peace and quiet for now though!

I think my lot have gone back quite late compared to some schools. Either way, it was worth the wait.

Looking at these photos and then back at old ones (obviously we do this every year, we have to now we have been doing it so long) it          is astonishing how much Bess especially has grown. I do miss the littler version of my girl – even if she did chop herself a dumb and                dumber style fringe just days before she started reception class at her primary school!

Living Arrows

 

10 things I hate about soft play – and why we are rushing back

Hey. It’s me, Tasha. How ARE you?! You may not remember me, it’s been a while. Like most of you I have been staying at home and self isolating where possible! I’m still going nowhere except my weekly outing to do the grocery shop. Fun times.

This, however, is about to change. It’s Moose’s birthday today and just when I was feeling super guilty about having absolutely sod all planned.. A Facebook post popped up informing me that a local indoor soft play place, Safari Adventure Play was about to re-open 2 days before my darling offspring celebrated his 6th journey round the sun. Admittedly over the course of my (thus far) 19 years as a parent, soft play has never been my favourite place to be.

boy in ball pit

Historically my biggest memories have been:

  • Sweaty kids
  • Other peoples kids vomit (never had the dubious pleasure of it being mine – thank God)
  • Other peoples kids being absolute dickbags
  • My kids being absolute dickbags
  • Stickiness. Play equipment, kids, tables, floors. Sticky is never a good sign is it!?
  • Having to be prepared to fight other bleary caffeine needing parents for somewhere to sit
  • ‘That smell’. You know, the one which is a bit of a cross between ageing rubber, old urine and feet and hits you like a train upon entry to soft play.
  • Absolutely disgusting and shockingly overpriced coffee. I was once charged £3.40 for a cup of straight-out-of-the-sachet Nescafe which bore an unsettling similarity to used washing up water. Rough.
  • The frayed nerves of nearly every single adult there – not just parents but grandparents, childminders and the usually bewildered teenage staff members found hiding behind the counter. We once arrived at a soft place just as a shirtless man came charging out offering to rearrange the face of a man who as it turns out was another Dad. Madness! But at soft play, all bets are off.
  • One particularly memorable woman who changed her toddler’s stinky nappy IN THE SOFT PLAY (and then, of course, left the dirty nappy there for the poor staff to deal with)

Nonetheless the news that soft play centres were once again going to be throwing open their doors has had me positively giddy with excitement!

Yes of course it’s great that pubs and restaurants are letting us in again but oh the pure joy of waving my darlings off while I sit and chit chat and enjoy hot cuppas. Ah bliss. Of course, right now we are still having to wear face coverings except when we are eating and drinking so expect me to drink. A lot.

Is it safe?

I have to admit that it did cross my mind that maybe during a pandemic is not the time to be visiting somewhere we all think of (in normal times) as a bit of a germ factory – but, hear me out!

Right now they are running at much lower capacity. The one I am off to with Moose today is limiting admittance to 40% and they are recommending booking online. That’s far fewer people to have to deal with. A good start. On top of that they are cleaning like their jobs depend on it – because, you know, they kinda do. If we want indoor soft play to stick around then we have to use them. It’s as simple as that. There is a daily clean anyway on top of them wiping down the high touch areas throughout the day AND some kind of super anti bac they are spritzing everything with which protects for longer than the usual cleaning stuff.

So these places are about as clean and safe as they are EVER going to be right now. As part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme the lovely food and drink this particular place sells will be half price. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to quickly scoff your cake while your kid is busy in the ball pit. Sorry. No help for that.

Plus, in about 3 weeks time Moose is going to be going back to school. I don’t believe for a second that they will actually be able to socially distance a whole primary school effectively and this is a kid I had to tell off once for licking his mates shoes. HIS SHOES.

So, if anyone wants me between now and September there is a good chance that you will find me sipping tea and enjoying the air conditioning while Moose gets some much needed exercise and learns how to co-exist with children his own age before school starts again.

See you there?

 

 

 

Review: Harry Potter Magical Capsules – Unleash the Magic!

This product was gifted for the purpose of this post. All opinions remain honest and our own.

I feel like I missed the boat a bit when it comes to Harry Potter – well, the books at least anyway. They came out when I was in my late teens and had fallen out of love with reading. I have, however, seen all of the films – and I loved them too!

So it’s through the films rather than the books that I found my love for the wizarding world. I will listen to the books on Audible but I find the films stunning to watch. We took Col and Bess to the Warner Bros tour a few years ago and we all had an awesome time. They, unlike their mother, have read the books and seen the films.

Over Christmas last year I sat with Moose and watched Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. He was fascinated! He wanted to know more about Harry Potter following our review of the invisibility cloak. From the first chimes of the music, he was hooked.

harry potter magical capsule

What’s in the box?

Discover the magic of Harry Potter with the newest collectable for the Wizarding World. Each bronze Hogwart’s Crest contains one of our favourite characters from the Harry Potter series. Series 1 features 10 characters to collect with these listed on the handy collector card. 

Each crest contains two clues to the character inside. 

Open compartment number 1 to reveal a heat reveal Hogwart’s Crest. Which House could your character be in?

Open compartment number 2 to reveal a spell name. I can’t see it…its written in secret ink and will only be revealed when you dip the paper in water!

So you know the Hogwart’s House and the spell name….real Harry Potter fans will know who is hidden inside the crest….

Open it up to reveal 4 wrapped parcels…save the biggest till last…to finally know which character you’ve got! 

Each character comes with 3 accessories and 2 clues!

What did we find?

Moose loves toys with a surprise element so the Harry Potter Magical Capsule, with it’s 3 surprises was an absolute winner. I did wonder whether he would know the characters because to be fair he had only watched the first film a couple of times but I needn’t have worried – he knew who we got straight away!

Compartment number 1.

Inside the first compartment you will find a Hogwarts crest. This crest is heat activated and, with a little rub, will reveal the colour of your characters assigned house. Of course, Moose got Gryffindor! This was our first clue…

Compartment number 2

Our second clue as to the identity of our mystery character was to be found in compartment number 2. This was a mysterious strip of card with a water droplet depicted upon it. Moose clocked that this meant that we had to wet the strip (what? I hadn’t had my coffee yet!!) and ran off in the direction of the downstairs loo. A quick splosh later and the ink was made visible. It was a spell! Expelliarmus!

Compartment number 3

The final reveal was, of course, the big one. Who was our character? It was Harry Potter himself! Moose was so excited to find a mini Harry complete with luggage, a wand, a letter from Hogwarts and of course, Hedwig!

What did we think of the Harry Potter Magical Capsule?

I think it’s true that a picture speaks a thousand words so I will let Moose’s expression do the talking here. He was THRILLED with this toy. I initially thought that £9.99 was a bit highly priced for a surprise toy but having seen and felt the quality of the figures inside as well as the Hogwarts crest case (which of course you could use to keep the bits together) I have been pleasantly surprised.

The age rating on the packaging is 3+. I would probably suggest that 3 years old would still be a little young just because there are small parts and the figure itself may be slightly too delicate for tiny hands. Moose at age 5 loved it as did Bess at age 14. I am definitely going to be choosing these as a stocking filler option this Christmas.

 

Water fights and Caterpillars – Living Arrows Week 26 2020

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

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

My first photo this week was taken during a really hot day. We are still trying to learn at home but the temperature hit 86 degrees (I always use Fahrenheit during the summer and Celsius over the winter, it’s more dramatic) and I made the executive decision to stop “homeschool” for the day in favour of an old fashioned water fight. Every single one of us was utterly drenched! It was so much fun though, which, in my opinion, is just as important for Moose and Bess as school.

A little while ago I decided that it was about time we made use of the Butterfly Garden we got at last years STEM fair. We ordered the caterpillars but there was a super long wait. Now that we have them we are making Butterflies our summer project! Moose will be learning all about their life cycle. I am on the lookout for activities to do with him which ties in with the Butterflies theme. Feel free to comment with your ideas if you have any!

Living Arrows

Recipe – Sticky Sesame Pork with Egg Fried Rice

Don’t you hate those blog post recipes where you have to trawl through the writers life story and inane ramblings to get to the good stuff? Yeah, me too. All you need to know about this recipe is that it takes next to no time at all (especially if you prepare the sauce in advance) and it has saved me a ton of money on nights where I needed that Chinese takeaway taste or I wanted to stay on plan. You might have to buy things for this recipe but once you have them it makes for a budget friendly, super easy meal.

sticky pork with egg fried rice

Egg Fried Rice

Ingredients

Rice. Either basmati or long grain. Cook it the day before for optimum results. Seriously, do this. Yes, it’s a bit of planning but it takes 10 mins and will make or break your fried rice game.

half a tsp of salt

half a tsp of MSG. Some bad press about MSG. I wouldn’t eat it everyday but I like the flavour and it does make a world of difference. If you are against it then just use a little extra salt. You can purchase it for very little money at your local Chinese supermarket. I shop at Janson Hong which I believe has an online shop too.

A slug of dark soy sauce. Dark is richer and the amount you use is really down to personal preference

1 egg (or 2 if you are hungry)

Peas/beansprouts if you want to add some veg.

Method

Take your day old rice out of the fridge around half hour before using it and tip into a mixing bowl. Add the soy sauce, MSG and salt and mix the rice well.  Set it aside.

Beat your egg/s in a bowl, I like to add a pinch of MSG to my egg, again, you can use salt if you prefer.

Fry your egg in your wok or large pan. You don’t really want an omelette so break it up as it cooks. Add the veg if you are adding it. Once the veg is hot and the egg is set, chuck the rice into the wok too. Keep it moving so that it doesn’t stick and cook for around 5 minutes. You will know when the rice is hot enough because the individual grains kind of move a little bit like maggots. If anyone has a better analogy then let me know! That is what they look like though!

Anyway, that’s it. It’s so easy and obviously you can add meat and extra veg if you want to turn it from a side dish into something a bit more substantial.

chinese meal

Sticky Sesame Pork

Ingredients

500g Pork

6 Tbsp Honey

2 cloves of garlic (or you could use puree or the jarred stuff) smushed or finely chopped

2 tbsp Chinese rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar will work if you have this instead)

2tbsp Ketchup

4tbsp Brown Sugar

4 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

Sesame seeds

Spring onions

Method

Mix everything in a bowl except the spring onions and the meat together. Chop the pork into bite sized chunks, I use Pork belly strips because they are cheap and full of flavour. Fry it. Once the pork is cooked pour over the sauce mix, lower the heat and stir. It will need just a few minutes to cook down into that sticky loveliness you are craving. Serve over egg fried rice and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and sliced spring onion.