Term Time Holidays

Term Time Holidays

I’ve never really had an opinion on the ‘holiday in term time’ debate as I’ve never had children of school age before but, in the last few months, this has become a hot topic in our household. The reason being, we are off to Mexico in May for my brother-in-laws wedding and the biggest boy will end up missing 2 weeks of school.

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The holiday has been subject to much debate as it’s costing a small fortune and it’s money I had earmarked for our first Disney holiday. Although it’s not Florida, I love the idea of us having a family holiday with lots of extra pairs of helping hands nearby as attempting to fly with 4 small children fills me with dread. But,I hate the fact that B will miss 2 weeks worth of school.

We had no choice over the dates of this holiday as, due to the grooms job, he has to take his holiday at certain times of the year. I tried telling hubby that we shouldn’t really go as it’s not fair to take B out of school but that meant asking him to miss his brothers wedding which didn’t go down very well.

We’ve had people say that it doesn’t matter as it’s just his first year at school and he’s not going to miss anything important but, I disagree. All education is important. His first year at school is one of the most important as he is getting used to being in an educational setting while learning the very basics which he’ll need to build on over the years.

I know teachers hate it (my friends have told me as much) but I will be asking his teacher if there is anything we can do while we’re away so he doesn’t slip behind. I also fully intend to have B working while we’re away on holiday. I am on the lookout for a camera for him so he can take pictures and make a holiday diary that he can show to his friends when he gets home.

During a visit to the primary school before we made our choice, we discussed term time holidays with the headteacher. He wasn’t overly concerned about it and said as it was an exceptional circumstance he would authorise the absence for us. Unfortunately, since that meeting, the headteacher has changed! I now have to go and make an appointment with the new headteacher and hope she’ll authorise the holiday. I’m going to feel like such a naughty girl sitting outside her office before the meeting!

This will probably be our one and only chance to go on a Caribbean holiday with the children as the cost during the school holidays is ridiculous and flying on our own with 4 children is just stupidity! I know we’ll most likely have a great time but, I can’t get excited as I know B shouldn’t be out of school.

How do you feel about taking children out of school for holidays? Do you worry about the effect on their education or do you think that children are still learning while they’re away?

Tuesday Twinkler
Off To School

Off To School

The uniform has been purchased and labelled, the induction sessions completed and now the summer holidays are drawing to a close. This can only mean one thing, the biggest boy is off to school – woohoo!

He is incredibly excited and I know he’ll be just fine as he’s the oldest in the class. He was more than ready to go last year but, due to his tardiness of not arriving on his due date (thanks son), he’s had to wait a whole extra year.

The excitement of him starting school ends here though as his introduction to school is the world’s biggest ball ache! I understand it’s a massive change and that some children are a lot younger than others but, it hasn’t gone down too well in my newly returned to workplace that I need to have the whole of September off!

This is because the boys school do a very, very, almost painfully slow, gradual introduction. The first 2 days are just an hour which barely gives me enough time to drag my other 3 back home before I have to turn around and go back again. It’s a small village school and there is nowhere to go to waste an hour either.

The following 2 weeks he finishes at 12 which at least gives me time to get home and let the 2 year old rest! The final 2 weeks of the introduction extends the school day to include lunch before going home at 1.30. I have nobody else who can do the pick ups at this time of day so I’m having to take the entire month off work. My company were not particularly impressed when my parental leave application went in!

Most children in this day and age have been doing long days at nursery for some time so I’m wondering if such a drawn out introduction is necessary. Other local schools have shorter days for a week or 2 but I’ve yet to find another who take such a long time to settle the children in.

I know I’m looking at it from an older child’s perspective and will probably write a very different article in 3 years time when my twins, having just turned 4, head off to school. But, I’m really interested in hearing other parents views of their child’s introduction to school. Is anybody else faced with a whole month of shorter school days?

Twin Birthday Etiquette

Twin Birthday Etiquette

I’m not really too sure how to write this and I don’t want to come across as ungrateful but, I want to share my first big twin dilemma with you.

How would you feel if your twins were given a joint birthday card? This is the exact situation we found ourselves in just a few weeks ago on our girls 1st birthday. I know they’re only 1 and they’ll never remember it but it’s really annoyed me and I feel it needs to be addressed before it becomes a regular thing.

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I’ve always made an effort to make sure the girls are treated as 2 separate people. I know that’s hard when they’re small but it’s something we will make sure we do more as they grow up. We don’t want them to be viewed as “The Twins” as that’s almost implying they are 1 person. What we buy or give to 1, we are very careful to make sure we give the same to the other. Almost exactly as you would treat any other siblings.

The card was sent by a very close family member which I think has made me more annoyed. These are the people who see the girls on a regular basis and know we want them treated as individuals.

It was the same family member who just a few days before their birthday, called me and asked whether we wanted them to have the same present or different as they “didn’t want there to be an argument “. Had they been a bit older, there would have been an argument over the card instead.

I wouldn’t send a joint birthday card to other siblings so why are twins any different? They are 2 separate people so surely they deserve a card each? What will happen when the move out and live separately? Will they only get half a card each or does buying 2 stamps defeat the object?

The offending family member just happens to share his birthday with another member of the family. Guess what he’s going to be getting for his birthday? If you guessed a joint card, you get a gold star!

To mums of older twins, am I going to be forever fighting for I and L to be seen as individuals or will they always be seen as one?

”Twinkly
One Year On With Twins

One Year On With Twins

This week we celebrated our twin girls 1st birthday. We survived our first year of being a family of six and managed to keep 2 babies alive at the same time.

We’ve had a really great time and the girls managed to string their birthday celebrations out for 5 days with parties and a day out at the seaside. Talk about little princesses!

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This week has got me reminiscing and remembering back to being told we were expecting twins. After the initial shock dispersed, the panic set in. Although I had done this ‘having a baby’ thing before, I now had to do it with 2 babies at the same time!

I have a few friends who are twin parents so I turned to them for help. They all agreed on one point, how hard the first year is particularly if you end up with a stay in SCBU. I was literally horrified at how difficult raising twins sounded. I wondered how on earth people manage to get twins past their 1st birthday if it’s that hard!

Thankfully our twins arrived at 38+5 weighing in at a whopping 7lb 5oz and 7lb so we got home straight away. We were also blessed with 2 of the most laid back little girls I have ever met. After having had 2 boys born full of energy, they were a welcome relief. They love a routine, go to sleep without too much of a fuss and still nap. It’s probably a good job as I sometimes struggle to give them the attention they need with the 2 other whirlwinds around!

We’ve had one of the most exciting years ever. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy but it’s not been half as bad as I was expecting. There have been days when I’ve wanted to give all the children away but they usually get forgotten about when they come running at me for a hug or pile into my bed in the morning for a snuggle. We’ve also had days where we’ve had so much fun, I almost didn’t want to put the children to bed.

I think the real challenge now begins! Both of the twins are on the move and one of them is up on her feet. In a few short months, I will have 2 toddlers who want to try and walk everywhere and refusing to use the pushchair. This will no doubt be nicely timed to coincide with us all having to do the school run for the first time!

I am so much more nervous about having to shepherd 4 small children along the half a mile walk to school before 9am than keeping newborn twins alive!

I cannot wait to see what amazing things we get up to over the next year. I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops and how much mischief they can get into together. Wish me luck!

Mummascribbles
Days Out In Cambridgeshire

Days Out In Cambridgeshire

The summer holidays are upon us and with it, 6 long weeks of entertaining bored kids! Although I’m now back at work, I still have more than 50% of the week to find some way of avoiding boredom.

Cambridgeshire has so many amazing places to visit (some of which are free which is an added bonus) and this is how we are intending to spend our summer (providing the rain goes away!)

Here’s my list of local places that are great to visit with under 5’s.

1. Sacrewell Farm
With tractors to climb all over and have rides on, animals to feed and an amazing soft play area, this makes a great day out. It’s not too expensive and has indoor options should the heavens open. They also have additional activities on during school holidays.

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2. Hinchingbrooke Park
Apart from a small car parking charge, it’s free to visit. There are miles of lovely walks, plenty of open space for running around and lots of play equipment for children. Also, if the kids stay quiet enough, there’s lots of wildlife to be seen. They usually have additional activities such as pond dipping in the school holidays.

3. Johnsons Farm
This is about 5 minutes in the car from us a definitely a great way to kill a morning. The kids love visiting the animals. They have all sorts there but their favourites are always the alligators. Although it’s free to visit, I always get stung for the amazing food in their cafe and farm shop!

4. Anglesey Abbey
A beautiful National Trust house and gardens. Lots of outdoor space for the kids to run around and amazing for a game of hide and seek! We all learn something new here as well look at the array of flowers and find out what they are.

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5. Sedgwick Museum
There are plenty of museums in Cambridge to choose from but this is my favourite. I love all things earth science related and with dinosaurs involved the boys tolerate it too! Always plenty of activities going on to amuse all ages. There’s also a great geology trail that takes you on a walk around Cambridge centre after you’ve finished in the museum. Totally geeky but we love it!

Grandparents Are Superheroes

Grandparents Are Superheroes

No, they don’t wear lycra and fly through the sky (that I know about or want to know about anyway) but they do come to our rescue in times of need.

Our parents are the greatest! If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to return to work after having the boys and we most definitely wouldn’t have been able to go away to celebrate our birthdays recently or have date nights!

We are really lucky that my parents are less than 5 minutes away and the in-laws are only an hour away. They are never intrusive but they have helped us out so much over the years since the children have been born and I’m not sure we could ever thank them enough.

They have come to our rescue when our eldest fractured his femur and required a blue light trip to the hospital. My Mum has never travelled the mile between our houses as quickly as she did that morning. She took amazing care of a very frightened 1 year old as his brother was wheeled off to the hospital.

They also helped out so much in the final weeks of my twin pregnancy when I was so poorly and getting up off the sofa required a crane and about 20 minutes! Days out and extended holidays definitely helped break the boredom of Mummy being a beached whale!

I know they say they enjoy it but looking after the grandchildren does take it out of them. They’re not in their 30s any more! But, at the same time, I think it’s keeping them younger. They get out more and run around which can’t be bad for their health.

It’s also giving our Dad’s an opportunity to get back what they missed out on when we were younger. I know my Dad worked incredibly long hours just so my Mum could stay at home with us. He missed out on a lot of the fun of having really little people and I think he’s making up for that now. He’ll quite often phone up and asks if he can take the boys out or come play with them.

With the rising cost of living, Mums are having to go back to work after maternity leave. This means more and more grandparents are helping out with childcare. It’s a good job really as childminders and nurseries don’t come cheap! Without my parents help, there would have been no point me returning to work. All of my wages every month would have been gobbled up by the long nursery hours the boys would have needed. I also love the way they are cared for by someone they know really well and trust completely. They still do a few hours a week at nursery so there’s not as much pressure on my parents and I like them mixing with other children.

But, does there come a time when grandparents doing large amounts of childcare has to stop?

Yes, for me I think there does. Our parents are still fairly young and in good health. I’m not sure I would impose on them so much if they were a lot older and heading towards their 70’s or their health was failing them. If my children started to cause them big problems such as stress or they became ill then we would reevaluate the situation immediately. I wouldn’t want them caring for our children to make them ill or prevent them getting better.

They say they enjoy it and I do think that’s genuine as they’ve really missed having the boys while I’ve been on maternity leave. If they are enjoying it and everybody is happy, then the arrangement works.

I’ll never be able to thank them enough for all the help they give us and will be forever grateful to them.

Mummascribbles
Mami 2 Five
The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

Myself and my biggest boy had a little Mummy/son bonding time on Sunday. I love spending time with him on his own as it’s something we rarely do these days and with him heading off to school in September, it’s going to happen less often.

I saw The Gruffalo in the West End advertised on Groupon months back. B loves the theatre and he loves The Gruffalo so I knew I was onto a winner booking tickets.

I was a bit nervous about going it alone with him in London as he can be a bit of a handful especially when tired! But, we got Daddy to drop us at the station and headed into London from the in-laws which made the journey considerably shorter.

We arrived at Picadilly Circus nice and early. Our aim was to have a wander through the shops but I forgot the shops don’t open until 12 on a Sunday. It was lovely and quiet though so we had a wander around, watched some street acts and enjoyed the fact the streets were closed to traffic for a 10k race.

The Gruffalo is currently on at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue until the end of the summer holidays. It’s currently sharing the theatre with Thriller and B was quite taken by the huge sparkly sign above the theatre!

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We arrived just as they were letting people into the theatre and it was packed! Although they recommend ages 3+, it was nice to see children of all ages there and even a few adults without children!

We loitered outside for as long as we could before we went inside to find our seats. The show is only an hour long but I thought B might start to get a bit fidgety.

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We had great seats, really close to the stage but with no tiered seats B found it difficult to see when a lady sat in front of him. We did swap seats but maybe I should have gone for circle seats instead.

The show is performed by a cast of 3 actors and they were fantastic. One actress played the mouse for the entire show while the other 2 actors played numerous roles between them.

B was so engrossed in the show that he was shouting along with the characters and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stay still for that length of time! He loved it.

I don’t mind taking the kids to these shows as long as I’m entertained as well and The Gruffalo really did that. With fantastic story telling, brilliant songs that the audience could join in with and the most over the top and flamboyant snake you ever did see, we both had a great time. I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil it but, I highly recommend going to see this. I enjoyed it so much I’m considering going back and taking O with me.

After the show we headed off to M&M World in Leicester Square. I promised B we would pop in here afterwards so he could get some chocolate.

The smell of chocolate as you walk in the door is just overwhelming! It makes you so hungry. Obviously a fab marketing tool! We had a wander around and B wanted to have a go on the huge London bus in the entrance. We did buy a few M&Ms from the pick and mix machines which were pretty pricey but don’t tell Daddy!

We had lunch in Leicester Square. Bad Mummy alert but, we had a Burger King! It was absolutely ram packed so we headed outside to the grassed square area. They have pavement fountains and we were enjoying watching other children play in them while we ate.

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As soon as we finished though, B wanted in on the action. It was all going so well until he lost his timing and ended up standing on a fountain as it sprayed up. I could hear everyone gasp as he got his soaking.

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I had to walk around for the next hour with a child who looked like he’d wet himself! We both found it pretty funny though. If you can’t do things like this as a kid, when can you!

After lunch I asked B where he’d like to go and his response kind of surprised me. He wanted to go see the Queen. So, we headed off towards Trafalgar Square where I showed him Nelsons Column and more fountains (although we stayed well clear this time).

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We continued our walk towards The Mall. I lived on the outskirts of London for the first 21 years of my life and I have spent so much time in the capital. But, I have never once walked up The Mall!

The road closure was still in place so we took the opportunity to walk right up the centre of The Mall so he could see Buckingham Palace getting closer.

He was pretty impressed when we arrived that somebody actually lived in the ‘castle’. We sat on the fountain for a while (notice a theme yet!) watching the world go by before going over to the gates to watch the guards and wave at a few policemen!

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By now, B was starting to complain he was tired and his leg was hurting. He fractured his femur about 18 months ago and if we do a lot of walking he still complains about it so we started to head home. We had a stroll back through Green Park to the Tube station.

We sat on the train eating our chocolate then B curled up on my lap! I forget he’s only 4 years old at times and I think I broke him today!

”Twinkly
Time For A Redesign

Time For A Redesign

We bought a new build house around 18 months ago. New build houses suck for interior decoration unless you love magnolia everything so, we planned to work around the rooms redecorating one at a time.

Decorating quickly got put on hold when we realised new babies were arriving although we did manage to get the nursery done! That was one important room to decorate.

I’m ready to get decorating again now and thought I’d start with a relatively small project – the en-suite.

We have a problem with the en-suite – the window. We have a beautiful VELUX window in there which is great for admiring the scenery while you’re having a shower but I fear my neighbours can see in, particularly in the winter when the trees shed their leaves. We need a bit of privacy!

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The VELUX website has some amazing solutions for the window. I can’t decide if I want a pleated or venetian blind. Both options are relatively affordable which, now my maternity pay has run out, is a must.

A venetian blind would mean I could angle the blind and spare my neighbours eyes while still admiring the scenery. But, the pleated blinds come in some fantastic colours and could match my colour scheme.

I will be using their free swatch sample service over the next few weeks to see which option goes best with my colour scheme before deciding. With so many choices, it’s a tough decision.

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The rest of the room only needs a lick of paint as the actual suite is brand new. I love bright and vibrant colours and I love feature walls. I once painted a wall of our old kitchen blood red while hubby was at work. He was pretty furious but did eventually agree it looked good!

I like the nautical/marine look for bathrooms at the moment. I definitely want a blue feature wall and I saw this cyan paint on the Dulux website.

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To finish the room off I’ve found some matching accessories on the Dunelm website which will hopefully stand out nicely against the white of the suite.

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I’m really looking forward to my first decorating project and I’m hoping it will give me the bug to get the rest of the house done.

Home Etc
Posie Pixie And The Pancakes – Book Review

Posie Pixie And The Pancakes – Book Review

Posie Pixie And The Pancakes is the seventh book in The Whimsy Wood series by Sarah Hill. We’ve never read this series of books before but I had heard great things about them.

I told the boys the title of the story and asked if they wanted me to read it. As soon as they heard the word pancakes, they wanted in!

The first thing that struck me about this book is the amazing illustrations. Sarah Mauchline does a really beautiful job of bringing the book to life through her drawings. Just look at this beautiful party animal!

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The boys were really blown away with the pictures and spent a great deal of time just looking at them.

I wasn’t sure whether my 2 boys would enjoy the book as I thought it looked a bit long and grown up for them but, neither of them moved for the entire story! They’ve also asked for this story at bedtime several times since so they obviously enjoyed it.

The story is so descriptive and really builds a picture up in your head of what’s going on. It is wonderfully written for the children and really captivated the boys including the 2 year old who very rarely sits still for anything these days.

I personally did find the book quite difficult to read. I found the sentences, although descriptive, very long winded and often found myself running out of breath!

The book is great for raising awareness of some really important everyday issues such as healthy eating and the environment but, in a fun, ‘the kids will never notice it snuck in the story’ kind of way! It sparked some interesting discussions with my 4 year old about why we should pick up rubbish and why we can’t eat endless amounts of junk food!

I was really surprised by this book. Looking at the front cover I thought the story would be quite girlie but neither of my 2 complained while I was reading it. They enjoyed it so much that they have asked me to purchase the other books in the series so they can here all about Posie’s other adventures.

Three In The Bed

Three In The Bed

Last night we had an enormous storm! It was kind of inevitable given all the hot, humid weather we’ve had recently. It was the kind of storm that brewed silently with lots of lightning and built to almighty, house shaking thunder and lightning.

I saw it brewing about 1.30 am with almost constant lightning. It wasn’t long after, that a small face appeared at our bedroom door claiming he was frightened.

Normally, no child invades my bed during the night but a terrified 4 year old during a rare thunderstorm is an exception.

We tried to sleep but the lure of watching the storm was too great. We don’t get too many storms in The Fens as it’s a bit too flat and boring! So, we sat at the window watching for a while but the surrounding trees were blocking our view so we all piled back into bed and found a great website to watch the storm on instead.

This real time lightning map was great. We could see the flash of lightning and then it would appear on the map and show us the approximate track of the thunder. The boy was fascinated and it definitely took his mind off the fear of the storm. He was following the thunder ‘bubble’ to our village and was so impressed when he heard the thunder at the right time. Check this map out next time there’s a storm. It’s great fun!

The storm lasted nearly 2 hours and we were exhausted when we finally got the boy back to bed. Thankfully, none of the other children even stirred. Anymore than 3 in our bed is becoming a squeeze these days! How they sleep through storms like that I will never know!

Have you been disturbed by the Great British Summer storms this week? What do you do to pass the time with frightened children?